Viktor Hovland ends 2021 on a high and has “home” Major target for 2022

The 24-year-old won the Hero World Challenge and will be looking forward to playing next year’s PGA Championship in his home state of Oklahoma.

Viktor Hovland's fifth career win might have come in the PGA Tour's "unofficial" Hero World Challenge, but he was under no illusions about the value of the triumph for his future prospects.

"Hell, yeah," he said when asked if it felt significant.

"There's only 20 guys in the field," he explained. "But the players here are really good and I feel like my wins have come when the field hasn't been as strong, so for me to do well in a field like this gives me a lot of confidence."

The 24-year-old's progress in the professional ranks has, in one sense, been typical while, in another, it has been remarkable.

Typical because, like Collin Morikawa, who he turned pro alongside in mid-2019, he has appeared immediately at home on the PGA Tour.

Remarkable because such ease within elite company is very far from ordinary.

Morikawa, of course, has achieved more than Hovland in the brief time the pair have been paid to play the game; he's landed two Major Championships, a WGC title and the DP World Tour's Race to Dubai and Tour Championship.

But when he stumbled having taken a five shot lead into the final round of the Hero World Challenge, it was the Norwegian who took advantage and it might, in time, be seen as a turning point.

Not so much for Morikawa, for whom it is likely to be a mere bump in the road, but for Hovland it could prompt more significant PGA Tour successes and even wins at the very highest level.

In the first instance, however, he feels in need of rest and recuperation after a year that has seen him win on both sides of the Atlantic and make his debut for Europe in the Ryder Cup.

"I need a little break," he said. "I'm going to Oklahoma from here, spend a couple days there, then head to Norway for Christmas."

That he lives in Oklahoma has proved decisive in his career thus far and may well be crucial in 2022.

The windy state has prepared him for blustery conditions, helping him to wins in Puerto Rico, twice on the Mexican coast and now the Bahamas.

Might it impact when the PGA Championship goes to Oklahoma next May?

Let's take a look at Hovland's thoughts on the state of his game and also that "home" game in 2022.

Hovland on responding to every shot in the same manner

"It's something I've had to work on a little bit. Golf is so frustrating and it's easy to get in the mindset of thinking you want to play perfect golf all the time. Frankly, out here it's way tougher to do that because you've got so many slopes and you can hit good shots that run off the green.

"You've got accept that you're going to hit some good shots and get some bad breaks. At the end of the day you're playing 72 holes. That one bounce can really put you off with the mindset, but if you just kind of let if go as one unlucky bounce and keep kind of sticking to what you're doing, there's plenty enough holes to kind of rise to the top."

On being inspired by Tiger Woods and Henrik Bjornstad

"I remember sitting in the classroom just watching highlights on YouTube. He definitely inspired me and helped me in that way, but watching his highlights kind of made the idea of competing against this guy on Tour seem more far-fetched. It was more like a dream.

"I also took a lot of inspiration and motivation from Henry Bjornstad, who was Norway's first player on the PGA TOUR. I was lucky enough growing up after he stopped playing, when he did some stuff for our federation. I was about 13 or 14 years old and I got to pick his brain a little bit. That kind of bridged the gap a little bit."

The 2022 PGA Championship

Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Oklahoma will host and it is known to the golfing public having welcomed the 2001 US Open and the 2007 PGA Championship in recent times.

The very fact that the event is in the state Hovland went to college and resides will represent good vibes. But he also consistently references not only his ability to play in wind, but the fact that his Oklahoma background is the reason for it.

Should blustery conditions prevail in May, we can assume that he'll be prepared.

Thus far, he has a solid, rather than impressive, record in the Majors. As an amateur he finished T32nd and T12th at the 2019 Masters and US Open.

He's now played seven of them and has always landed a top 40 when he's completed the tournament (he's had one withdrawal), but T12th remains his best effort and he's yet to have genuinely been in the hunt at the weekend.

It would be surprising if he doesn't change that in 2022 and, if he can gain some experience of contending at Augusta, he will have a great chance at Southern Hills.

READ MORE: Viktor Hovland: a look at the Norwegian star's hopes of landing a Major in 2022

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