May 24, 2024

Viktor Hovland picked a remote area of the range at TPC Sawgrass’ outstanding practice facilities where few onlookers could pry.

The Players Championship was taking place that March. Under the cautious supervision of his unconventional and new coach, Joseph Mayo, the Norwegian had already enjoyed a consistent start to the year that would eventually turn extraordinary.

At the Arnold Palmer Invitational the week prior, Hovland placed in a tie for tenth place, marking his first top-10 finish of 2023. He was working hard, hitting shot after shot from a bunker to the practice green during the biggest week of the year thus far.

The tutoring seems quite basic. As I walked past, I heard people discussing simple principles like stance, ball position, and striking points.

Hovland was a master of concentration, soaking up all the knowledge imparted by his coach, a former professional poker player who entered the coaching field by selling golf launch monitors.

At Sawgrass that week, Hovland tied for third place. After finishing second to Brooks Koepka at the US PGA Championship in May at Oak Hill, he went on to win his first PGA Tour event at the Jack Nicklaus Memorial in Ohio a fortnight later.

This was the first PGA Tour victory to occur on U.S. soil; the previous three had taken place in Mexico and Puerto Rico. He triumphed at Muirfield Village by shooting seven under par, his first victory on a course that was actually difficult.

Four months later, he can finally claim success in the season-long FedEx Cup after shooting the lowest combined score at the Tour Championship in Atlanta with East Lake guru Xander Schauffele. This victory followed one week earlier success at the Olympia Fields, site of the 2003 US Open, in the BMW Championship.

The new world number four, who earned a record $34.5 million (£27.4 million) in prize money in 2023, will join Europe’s Ryder Cup team the following month as perhaps the game’s hottest player.

His last 11 rounds, which include 64, 65, 69, 68, 65, 61, 68, 64, 66, and 63, have all been in the 60s. His cumulative score for the final three PGA Tour play-off events is 46 under par.

No one can shoot so well without great wedge shots, but this golfer chipped like a rank amateur for the majority of his professional career.

Hovland subsequently acknowledged, “When I was standing over every shot, I was saying, ‘Don’t duff it, skull it, don’t leave it in the bunker. “My friend and I made up the proverb, “Just land it on and keep it on. When we had a chip, we pretty much lowered the bar.

In addition to using vice-captain of the European Ryder Cup Edoardo Molinari as a performance coach, Hovland started working with Mayo at the beginning of this year. The analytics whiz Italian immediately discovered tactical weaknesses in the Norwegian’s play.

Hovland, who is usually aggressive, would far too frequently short-side himself with an eight-iron to wedge approaches, exacerbating alleged chipping shortcomings by creating challenging scrambles.

In terms of strokes gained around the greens last year, he came in at 191. He was only a golfer of the highest caliber due to his remarkable ball-striking ability.

The 25-year-old now competes with admirable maturity and security near the greens. After the Memorial, Nicklaus noted that “Viktor plays well within himself and is a smart player.”

“He’s going to have many victories in the future,” someone said.

Prophetic words from the 18-time major champion who broke the previous record, and Hovland is quick to recognize Mayo’s role to what is quickly becoming the realization of immense golfing potential.

He’s been fantastic, said Hovland. Since we’ve always had a fantastic friendship, we’ve been texting back and forth for a while, but not really about the golf swing.

He’s a really fascinating man. His is a fascinating brain to pick because I enjoy learning things from other individuals.

It has been wonderful to have someone evaluate my game from a completely new perspective ever since he joined the squad. He may be the lone golf instructor who never watches the game.

Mayo, according to Hovland, “brought a fresh set of eyes.”

The star from Oslo continued, “He’s just brought a lot of math and physics to my golf game.” We’ve just put that into practice, worked a lot on it, and oddly enough, it works.

The area where Hovland has made the most noticeable progress is around the greens, where his success percentage has increased from 58.45 percent to 62.1%. Key yet narrow margins.

“When I start to see the short game come around, I believe I have all the shots,” he declared. “I merely witnessed the shots that I was able to make in competitions and under extremely trying circumstances.

“I combined that with the knowledge I had about managing the course and my mindset toward dealing unfortunate bounces, bogeys, and terrible shots.

“Once I realized that, I no longer felt anxious when I arrived at a golf event or a golf course. “OK, whatever happens happens,” was the response.

At the end of the month, Hovland will compete in his second Ryder Cup at Marco Simone, close to Rome, and will undoubtedly be one of the most important members of Europe’s team as they attempt to grab the trophy back from the Americans.

His predecessor as FedEx Cup champion, Rory McIlroy, commented, “He just keeps his foot on the pedal.” “He’s one of the best golf ball drivers in the world.

As everyone is aware, he has gotten better this year on the greens. That’s what set him apart from other top-10 players in the world and what he’s accomplished this year.

“Winning at Memorial, winning the week before, and possibly winning at Oak Hill. So, yes, he is an exceptional player.

He puts in a lot of effort. I have nothing but admiration for the way he conducts himself. genuine expert. He has a really old head on those shoulders for someone yet so young.

Fans of the European Ryder Cup should be thrilled.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *