Viktor Hovland: a look at the Norwegian’s hopes of landing a Major in 2022

After a successful title defence at Mayakoba, we look at the youngster’s hopes of taking the ultimate step and joining the Majors club next year.

With victory in the World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba in Mexico, Viktor Hovland moved into the world's top 10 for the first time.

Seven of the nine players above him have won Major titles and that will be very much on the Norwegian's mind in 2022.

It's worth reminding ourselves that this time last year, Hovland had only one pro win to his name.

But in the last 12 months he's won three tournaments, taking victory at Mayakoba for the first time in December 2020, defending that title last week and, in between, nipping over to the European Tour to capture June's 2021 BMW International Open.

Having also contested his first Ryder Cup this year, the 24-year-old is clearly one of the game's rising forces.

Here Planet Sport looks at his hopes of landing a Major in 2022

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: 22/1 Planet Sport Bet

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 joint-best finish in a Major so far 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 in 2021 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.

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

Open Championship - St Andrews, Scotland

Hovland's odds: 25/1 Planet Sport Bet

Record at the Open

2021: T12 (Royal St George's, England)

With the pandemic causing the 2020 event to be cancelled, Hovland's debut in the Open Championship only came this year.

But it was a promising one as he made the top 12 in Kent.

He opened steadily with rounds of 68 and 71 to sit 40th at halfway but added rounds of 69-66 on the weekend to finish tied 12th, nine back from winner Collin Morikawa.

That matched his best finish in a Major.

Viktor Hovland playing at the The 149th Open at Royal St George's
Viktor Hovland playing at the The 149th Open at Royal St George's

It's certainly promising for Hovland backers that his three PGA Tour wins have come in coastal settings: the Puerto Rico Open at windy Coco Beach and those two victories in Mexico on the seaside track at 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.

He's yet to play any events at St Andrews which stages the 2022 tournament.

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 has already finished tied 12th and tied 13th in two of his three US Opens. 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 22/1 could be cut further if he continues his charge up the world rankings.

READ MORE: World Wide Technology Championship: Hovland completes successful defence in Mexico

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