Viktor Hovland No. 8 in world rankings

Driving up the leaderboard

Hovland

Photo: Stan Badz / PGA TOUR
Victor Hovland is a rising star on the golf circuit.

MICHAEL KLEINER
Business & Sports Editor
The Norwegian American

Viktor Hovland could live in any golf paradise city. He chose Stillwater, Okla., where he attended Oklahoma State University. He could have joined the other golf pros and traveled to different tournaments on the PGA private jet. He chose to drive his Lexus RC F.

It was June 2020, amid the pandemic. Some tournaments were getting canceled, some rescheduled. The decision was part COVID-based, part that he likes to drive. To Fort Worth, Texas, to Hilton Head, S. C., to Cromwell, Conn., to Detroit, Mich., to Dublin, Ohio, accompanied by metal music, podcasts, and “lots of Red Bull.”

The Oslo native is different–from his choices of abodes to transportation to his unorthodox swing and training methods to his perpetual smile. In the Feb. 26, 2020, edition of golf.com, Zephyr Melton wrote: “…. the 22-year-old wasted no time making a name for himself in the game’s upper echelon. Savvy game paired with an earnest charm were an irresistible combination for the golf media ….”

Now, 24, Hovland has been featured numerous times at golf.com. He has quickly moved up the leader board. He finished the 2020-2021 season fifth in FedEx Cup points standings.

He won the Mayakoba Golf Classic presented by UNIFIN in Riviera Maya, Mexico, Dec. 3–6, 2020, by one stroke over Aaron Wise with a 264, 20 under par. For the 2020-2021 season, Hovland had two seconds, two thirds, seven top 10 and 14 top 25 finishes.

He won the World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba, Nov. 4–7, with a 261, 23 under par. In the third round, he shot a career low of 62 with nine birdies. Overall, he had 28 birdies, 40 par and had a driving accuracy of 73.21%.

After three competitions in the 2021-2022 season, he is again fifth in FedEx Cup and eighth in world rankings. On Dec. 2-5, he won the Hero World Challenge in New Providence, Bahamas, with 68-69-67-66-270, 18 under par. He rallied from six back for the win. In the final round, he had two eagles, five birdies, and eight par. A highlight was converting an eagle from the sand on the 14th hole. It was his third eagle on that hole during the week. For the tournament, he converted four eagles, 21 birdies, and 37 par. All his wins have been in tropical climes.

“There’s not many similarities to Norway, so I don’t really get it myself,” he said in the press conference. “Usually there’s trouble off the tee, you got to hit it straight. That helps. The grass, the Bermudas, is not something I’m used to. For some reason, I play well here.”

Though not an official PGA event, the field was strong. “Hell, yeah,” he said about it feeling like a PGA win. “There’s only 20 guys in the field. The players here are really good. I feel like my wins have come when the field hasn’t been as strong. For me to do well in a field like this gives me a lot of confidence.”

This article originally appeared in the Jan. 7, 2022, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

Michael Kleiner

Michael Kleiner, business and sports editor, has more than three decades of experience as an award-winning journalist and public relations professional. He has operated his own PR and web design business for small businesses, authors and community organizations in Philadelphia since 1999. Not of Norwegian descent, he lived in Norway for a year with his family at age 11 and has returned as an adult. He is the author of a memoir, Beyond the Cold: An American’s Warm Portrait of Norway, and a member of the Norwegian American Chamber of Commerce Philadelphia. Visit Kleinerprweb.com; beyondthecold.com.

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