Viktor Hovland: A look at the Norwegian’s hopes of landing a Major

After becoming a winner on both the PGA and European Tours, we look at the youngster’s chances of taking the ultimate step and joining the Majors club.

Best Bet

Viktor Hovland to win the 2022 PGA Championship at 25/1

Viktor Hovland has been ticking off firsts for the last couple of seasons.

In 2018, he became the first Norweign to win the US Amateur when defeating Devon Bling in the final at Pebble Beach.

In 2020 he became the first Norwegian to win on the PGA TOUR when capturing the Puerto Rico Open.

And after a second win in America - at the Mayakoba Golf Classic - he became the first Norwegian to score a European Tour success when hoisting the silverware at last weekend's BMW International Open in Germany.

In September, he'll almost certainly become the first Norwegian to play in the Ryder Cup.

Hovland will have only just turned 24 when Europe does battle with the United States so his has been a rapid ascent since winning the Norwegian Amateur in 2014 and earning a place at Oklahoma State University.

But how about the Majors? It's not unusual these days for young players to put one on their CV early.

We've seen that only a couple of weeks ago when 26-year-old Jon Rahm won the US Open. Last September Collin Morikawa captured the PGA Championship aged just 23.

Hovland also has the chance to become a 23-year-old Major winner when he makes his debut in the Open Championship at Royal St. George's in July.

Here, Planet Sport looks at his hopes of winning on the south coast next month and also his chances of capturing a Major in 2022.

Open Championship - Royal St. George's, England

Hovland's best odds: 28/1 Paddy Power

This is Hovland's debut in the Open Championship so there are no clues there.

However, his two PGA Tour wins have come in coastal settings: the Puerto Rico Open at windy Coco Beach and the Mayakoba Golf Classic at seaside track El Camaleon.

Having played his college golf in Oklahoma where high winds are often prevalent, he has a solid grounding for success in a gusty Open Championship.

Royal St. George's is regarded as perhaps the quirkiest of the links venues on the Open rota but Hovland is a quick learner and has the shots and temperament to perform well.

The Masters 2022 - Augusta National, Georgia

Hovland's odds: 28/1 (Paddy Power)

Record at The Masters

2019: T32 (72, 71, 71, 71)

2021: T21 (73, 70, 72, 73)

Hovland already has some notable history at Augusta National: he was the low amateur on debut in 2019, breaking par in each of his final three rounds.

After somehow missing out on qualification in 2020, he returned this year. In tough scoring conditions, the Norwegian was tied 13th after 54 holes before settling for tied 21st - another decent effort.

In the 2019 Masters he ranked 8th for Greens In Regulation while this year he was 1st for Putting Average. Put those two together in the same year and he'd be a serious contender.

Speaking at the end of this year's Masters, he said: "I feel like I have the shots to have a chance to win. I made a bunch of birdies every single day. So I just need to learn this place a bit more, where not to miss it and all that stuff. I feel like my game is good enough to have a chance."

PGA Championship 2022 - Southern Hills, Oklahoma

Hovland's odds: 25/1

Record at the PGA Championship

2020: T33 (Harding Park, California)

2021: T30 (Kiawah Island, South Carolina)

Hovland opened with a 68 at Harding Park while he was tied second after round one at Kiawah Island earlier this year.

However, he wasn't able to build on those two strong starts and had to settle for similar finishing positions.

The venue this year is interesting as Southern Hills is in Oklahoma where Hovland went to college.

He also still lives there which increases the chances of practice rounds at Southern Hills.

Explaining his decision to keep his base in Oklahoma, Hovland said recently: "It was pretty popular for people, when they turn pro, to move to maybe Jupiter, Arizona, Dallas, other places. I just knew that kind of my world was going to change, and I didn't want to deal with moving to a different place where I don't know anyone and all that stuff. So I just kind of wanted to keep things similar as I turned pro and made my way to the PGA TOUR.

"Now fast forward a couple years, I'm still there. I think it's just the convenience of it. People are awesome. I'm playing a bunch with the guys on the golf team."

US Open 2022 - The Country Club, Brookline, Massachusetts

Hovland's odds: 28/1 Planet Sport Bet

Record at the US Open

2019: T12 (Pebble Beach, California)

2020: T13 (Winged Foot, New York)

2021: WD (Torrey Pines, South Carolina)

Hovland's best finish in a Major came as an amateur in 2019 when he took tied 12th at Pebble Beach after closing with a 67.

He looked set to do even better at Winged Foot in 2020, starting the final round in tied eighth before finishing with a 75 to drop to tied 13th.

An eye problem (he got sand in it) meant a withdrawal at Torrey Pines but he took that in his stride, displaying a refreshing humour about the incident on an Instagram post. 

And, of course, he quickly put that behind him when winning on the European Tour the following week.

This year's venue is Brookline where Matthew Fitzpatrick won the US Amateur in 2013. It's staged three previous US Opens.

Conclusion

While he's yet to have a top 10 in a Major, Hovland has made a promising start to what should be a long and successful career in golf's biggest events.

He was low Amateur at both the 2019 Masters and US Open while, before his WD at Torrey, Hovland had never finished worse than tied 33rd in six previous Majors.

Two solid performances at Augusta National and obvious improvements in his short game suggest he can thrive in the Masters sooner rather than later but perhaps his most interesting chance in 2022 comes in the PGA Championship.

Hovland's best two Major finishes have come in the US Open with tied 12th and tied 13th. So the planets start to look aligned given that this year's PGA is held at Southern Hills. Why? The course staged the 2001 US Open (as well as the 2007 PGA) and is based in Hovland's home state of Oklahoma.

Roared on by his home supporters on a course where he'll hopefully have an edge makes him an interesting bet.

It's a long way out but the current 25/1 could be cut if he continues his charge up the world rankings. Hovland is currently 13th; by next May's PGA there's every chance he'll be a top 10 player and maybe even top five.

READ MORE: Ryder Cup: Euro legends brought in for showdown at Whistling Straits

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