Søren Kjeldsen became the first player from Denmark to reach the milestone of 600 European Tour appearances when he teed it up in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA on Thursday.
The 44-year-old joins the exclusive club as he embarks on his 23rd season on the European Tour, having made his debut at the South African Open in 1998. He secured his playing rights through the European Challenge Tour the previous season – boosted by victory at the 1997 Volvo Finnish Open – and has been ever-present since.
Kjeldsen is making his 14th appearance in Abu Dhabi and will be aiming to replicate his form from 2019, when he finished in fifth place in the first Rolex Series event of the season.
“Back in 1998, to get on the European Tour was a major achievement and to still be here 23 years after, I could have never dreamt of that,” said Kjeldsen. “We don’t play a lot of team competitions, so winning the World Cup for Denmark was very special and winning the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open as well, after I had a couple of really tough years, to come back and win a massive event like that one was huge.”
He added: “I am still very passionate about the game, and to be around young players gives you that little bit extra incentive. I’m very pleased to be here at 600, so let’s see what happens in the future.”
Kjeldsen sealed the first of his four European Tour victories in 2003 by winning the Diageo Championship at Gleneagles, with his second victory coming five years later as he triumphed in the Volvo Masters at the famous Real Club Valderrama in Spain, on the way to a career-best tenth place finish in the rankings.
Spain proved to be a happy hunting ground for the Dane as he won the Open de Andalucía de Golf title the following year, before ending a six year wait for title number four with a play-off victory at the 2015 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open. He went on to enjoy one of his proudest career moments when he partnered compatriot Thorbjørn Olesen to win Denmark’s first World Cup of Golf title in 2016 – his sixth appearance in the event.
Pictured top: European Tour Deputy Chief Executive Officer Guy Kinnings and Søren Kjeldsen (Getty Images)