(Reuters) – Lucas Bjerregaard fulfilled a childhood dream with his victory over his idol Tiger Woods at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play Tournament in Austin, Texas on Saturday.
Bjerregaard, who said he had dreamed of playing against Woods since he was 10, relished the challenge of facing him in person and never looked intimidated as he completed a 1-up victory over the 14-times grand slam winner.
“Yeah, I dreamt about it. I didn’t think it was ever going to come true,” the Dane said after the victory that set up a semi-final with Matt Kuchar on Sunday. “But I’ve definitely seen myself on the practice putting green when I was 10 years old making a putt to beat him or in a major or something like that.
“Obviously didn’t know if it was ever going to come true. And just to get to play him was an experience for me.”
The 27-year-old Bjerregaard might be unknown to the American golfing public but he does have two European victories including a win in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at the Old Course at St Andrews last year.
He also finished 13th on the European Tour’s Race to Dubai rankings last year, but said on Saturday that he had never experienced the noise or support that Woods attracted in his eight-year professional career.
“It was loud,” Bjerregaard said. “It was like nothing I’ve ever experienced before.
“I’ve played with a lot of good players but nothing can compare to that. You can see, like he’s not just my idol, but a lot of other people.”
Bjerregaard, who met Woods for the first time on the practice tee, nearly fell three holes behind on the front-nine against the American before mounting a charge and producing clutch putting down the stretch.
He eagled the 16th hole to tie, then birdied 17 to remain level and watched Woods miss a putt on the last to end it.
“He hit it well,” Woods said. “He hit a lot of good shots today.
“These are not easy conditions out here. The wind is all over the place. He was flighting it well. His natural ball flight is pretty flat. It’s advantageous in these conditions.”
Thomas Bjorn, last year’s Ryder Cup captain, tweeted his pleasure with his Danish compatriot’s success.
“16 and 17 showed the whole golfing world what (he) is all about,” the Dane said. “Big moment in this guy’s career so far.
“Go on Luke.”
(Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; Editing by Greg Stutchbury)