ET Johansen hoping to phone home from Morgado with good news for his twin girls

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Norway’s European Challenge Tour player Eirik Tag Johansen
Norwegian Eirik Tag Johansen is looking for his second win of 2019 at the Open de Portugal, having had to take time off since the birth of twin daughters. Picture by golfsupport.nl

EIRIK Tage Johansen is swapping parental duties for the golf course this week and is hoping to return to the family home with something to celebrate following the 57° Open de Portugal at Morgado Golf Resort.

The Norwegian is playing a limited schedule this year after his wife gave birth to twins five months ago, providing their eldest daughter – who turns two years old next week – with two sisters.

Johansen’s wife, Maren, experienced a tough pregnancy which required him to spend more time at home both before – and after – the birth, meaning this week’s tournament will only be his sixth of the season.

However, a maiden victory at the Andalucía – Costa del Sol Match Play 9 in June meant he secured his playing privileges for the 2020 season in just his second event of the year, meaning everything from then became a bonus.

“It’s a crazy year,” Tage Johansen said. “We had twins in April and before that my wife wasn’t too well because of the pregnancy, so I had to take some time away from golf before they were born, and, of course, after.

“I was really fortunate to have a good week in Spain, I won there, and that made this season a whole lot easier. We made a plan to come out here enough times to have a shot at doing something reasonable.

“You can always wish to have some strong finishes but from where I started out this year, everything is a bonus.

“Even coming out early for tournaments and getting some sleep is a bonus!

“My eldest is going to be two next week and having three girls under two years old keeps you busy.”

The 37-year-old is currently 30th on the Road to Mallorca Rankings and sees this week as an opportunity to build on that solid foundation at a course which is set up to be a challenge.

“I’m staying on site here at Morgado Golf Resort,” he said. “They are great rooms and they have great facilities and it’s a great place to practice.

“The course is set up really tough and I’m glad they have trimmed the rough slightly. I came out here on Monday and couldn’t find a single ball!

“They’ve trimmed it down and made it nice and straight but it’s still a good challenge. This is a proper event, no doubt about it.

“Rolex Trophy is an extremely fun week to play and it was great to have a top 10 there. I’m playing this week and then I’m going to play in Morocco.

“They will be my next two events and I’m looking forward to hopefully doing something smart here.”

As the race for a top 15 spot on the Road to Mallorca hots up, the Portugal Open presents an opportunity for players to cement a place in the season-ending Challenge Tour Grand Final, with the winner receiving 32,000 rankings points.

With Challenge Tour No. 1 Calum Hill not playing this week, Southampton’s Richard Bland, local hero Ricardo Santos, Liverpuddlian Matthew Jordan and Northern Ireland’s Cormac Sharvin all have the chance to claim top spot with a victory.

•The Open de Portugal at Morgado Golf Resort first appeared on the Challenge Tour schedule in 2017 as a co-sanctioned event with the European Tour.

Hertfordshire’s Matt Wallace won the event wire-to-wire to secure graduation to the European Tour.

In 2018, it was solely a Challenge Tour event and returned to southern Portugal where Australian Dimitrios Papadatos lifted his first Challenge Tour trophy.

The action begins at Morgado Golf Resort at 6.30am on Thursday with Pep Angles, Aaron Cockerill and Simon Forsström in the first group of the day.

For live scoring click here.

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