HOYLAKE, England — A couple of kids had just gotten the autographs of Nicolai and Rasmus Hojgaard beside the 18th tee at Royal Liverpool when they looked at each.
“Who is who?” one said of the first set of twins to play at the British Open.
The other shrugged his shoulders and laughed.
Ask Nicolai, and he says he has a slightly thinner face than his brother. He has shorter hair at the moment, too.
Otherwise, there’s barely anything to distinguish the 22-year-old Danes.
Their trajectory in golf isn’t dissimilar, either.
They both turned professional in 2019 and were soon winners on the European tour. They even won on consecutive weeks in August-September 2021, another first on the tour for a pair of brothers.
Now they are sharing the same stage in the major championships. And it was quite the sight Wednesday as they walked side by side down the 18th fairway as the sun peeked out from behind the clouds, both with their right hands in their pockets and their parents — Ole and Tina — just behind.
“It’s special,” Nicolai said after finishing his last practice round before the British Open starts, “but it’s one thing to play together and another to compete.
“We are good enough to compete and that’s our goal — we will do our best this year and come back the next years and try to do our best. It’s cool to be the first twins here but it would be even cooler if we did something on the golf course as well.”
Rasmus is ranked No. 84 and has four wins, all on the European tour and with the most recent coming on home soil at the Made in Himmerland event this month. Nicolai was there in Farso for the one of the most heartwarming moments of the season and among the first to congratulate his brother next to the 18th green.
“When we were younger, we were fighting,” said Nicolai, who is ranked No. 106 and splits his time between the PGA Tour and the European tour. “Now we can cheer for each other like you saw in Denmark.
“I was out there celebrating with Ras and he has done the same for me. We are trying to win every time against each other when we play but at the same time we cheer each other on if one of us performs really well.”
They call each other best friends as well as brothers and they had some fun Wednesday, especially when they lined up next to each other and attempted a series of shots out of a deep greenside bunker on the par-3 17th.
“We had a little game going on, which was fun for a bit of tension,” Nicolai said.
They had different paths to qualifying for the Open, with Rasmus knowing for a while he was in the field — as a top-30 finisher in last year’s Race to Dubai — and Nicolai only securing his spot with a top-10 finish in the Scottish Open in Sunday.
They also were both in the field for this year’s PGA Championship — Nicolai tied for 50th and Rasmus missed the cut — but the ultimate goal is to play together in the Ryder Cup.
“If it happens this year or it happens next time, it doesn’t matter,” Nicolai said. “I think it will happen at some point. We’re not trying to chase it too much. We’re doing our work and hopefully good golf takes care of most things.”
When the Open was last held at Hoylake — in 2014 — Italian brothers Edoardo and Francesco Molinari both finished in the top 15.
Steve Douglas is at https://twitter.com/sdouglas80