Viktor Hovland Profile
|Born||Sep 18, 1997|
Viktor Hovland is the first Norwegian male golfer to make the breakthrough to the elite levels of the game.
Norway's Viktor Hovland turned professional in 2019 after winning the US Amateur the previous year and has made a comfortable transition to the PGA Tour.
Hovland won the Norwegian Amateur Golf Championship in 2014 and attended Oklahoma State University. In 2016/17, he was named in the Golf Coaches Association of America's All-Freshman Team.
His success continued in 2017/18 and his 2018 US Amateur win made him the first Norwegian player to win the title. He earned invitations to the 2019 Masters Tournament, the 2019 US Open, and the 2019 Open Championship, turning pro after finishing T12th at the 2019 US Open.
In 2020, Hovland won the Puerto Rico Open, becoming the first Norwegian to win on the PGA Tour. Later in the year he added victory in the Mayakoba Golf Classic.
He scored another landmark victory in June 2021 when becoming the first Norwegian to win on the European Tour by capturing the BMW International Open in Germany.
Hovland started playing golf at 11 years of age after his father, who worked in America, brought him a set of clubs. After his father taught him to play, Hovland honed his skills at an indoor driving range.
At the age of 16, Hovland won Norway's 2014 Amateur Championship, making a clear statement of intent that he was one to watch.
Major golf colleges in the USA took note of his early exploits and he ultimately chose Oklahoma State University. He spent three years there and enjoyed plenty of success.
"Even though professional golf is really cool, I loved college golf and being part of a winning team and I still think about the times we had. There's nothing better," he told Golf Today.
In 2016/17, Hovland made the Golf Coaches Association of America's All-Freshman team. Then, in 2017/18, he was named a first team All-American by the very same organisation.
In 2018, he edged American runner-up Devon Bling to win the US Amateur at Pebble Beach Golf Links. Later that year he played at the 2018 Emirates Australian Open as an amateur and finished T13th.
At the 2019 Masters, Hovland demonstrated his ability to perform on the big stage, finishing as the low amateur in T32nd. With that result he rose to the top of the global amateur rankings.
Hovland was also the low amateur at the US Open, back at Pebble Beach, finishing T12th with a total of 280. It was the lowest-ever total for an amateur in the championship, breaking Jack Nicklaus' previous record of 282 from 1960.
After his success in college golf, Hovland faced an adjustment as he attempted to move up to the professional game, a daunting task by his own admission.
"I would say I was a little anxious going into my professional career, even though I played really well in college," Hovland said.
"Suddenly, the more weeks I played in a row my shots kind of started coming back again, and then the confidence came.
"I realized over time that when you just play every single week, your mind switches off a little bit and you just get into golf mode."
His pro debut came right after the success at the US Open, in the 2019 Travelers Championship; he waived his right to automatic entry into the 2019 Open Championship.
He made four top 20s in his five starts till the end of the season, a good effort but he still required a visit to the Korn Ferry Tour Finals to confirm his PGA Tour card for 2019/10; tied second at the Albertsons Boise Open completed the job.
Before and after that step backward he reaffirmed his quality by setting a PGA Tour record for most consecutive rounds in the 60s, a whopping 19. His run finally came to an end in the third round of the CJ Cup in South Korea.
PGA Tour breakthrough
In February 2020, Hovland picked up his maiden win on the PGA Tour at the Puerto Rico Open with a 20-under-par total of 268, beating Josh Teater by a single stroke thanks to a birdie on the 72nd hole.
"The first (Norwegian) to play out here was Henry Bjornstad," Hovland said.
"I grew up kind of watching him play or following the scores online. So to follow in his footsteps and be able to win the first tournament for Norway is really special.
"It feels crazy. It was certainly a day of lots of ups and downs."
No previous Puerto Rico Open winner had completed further success at PGA Tour level, but Hovland laughed in the face of a supposed curse with victory later in the year at the Mayakoba Golf Classic, shooting 20-under-par 264 to beat Aaron Wise by one stroke.
"I don't really feel I am honestly very good at those pressure situations, I mean I was shaking there in the end," said Hovland. "I needed to make birdie on 18 and it just happened to go in."
His good form continued into early 2021. He made four top 10s in a row, a run that concluded with second place in the World Golf Championship Workday Championship at The Concession, a result that enhanced his chances of making a Ryder Cup debut in September 2021.
In November 2021, Hovland successfully defended his World Wide Technology Championship title. Securing his third TOUR win, he set a tour record of 23-under-par in Mayakoba.
In December 2021, Hovland secured a third PGA TOUR victory, winning the Hero World Challenge. A 6-under 66 on the final day saw him surge up the leaderboard to claim another TOUR title.
Another first on the European Tour
In June 2021, Hovland was forced to withdraw from the US Open at Torrey Pines with an eye problem.
After posting a picture of himself on Instagram, explaining that he'd got sand in his left eye after practising in a bunker, Hovland assured his fans that he'd be back soon.
In fact, it was just a matter of days as he flew to Germany to contest the BMW International Open. Shaking off the problem, Hovland played some superb golf to shoot 19-under and win by two. That made him the first Norwegian to win on the European Tour and took him to a career-high 13th in the world rankings.
In January 2022, Hovland won the Slync.io Dubai Desert Classic. He beat Richard Bland on the first play-off hole with a birdie. The victory saw him climb to third in the Official World Golf Rankings.
Hovland is the son of Galina and Harald Hovland.
He enjoys watching movies and spending time with his friends in his downtime. According to OK State, he considered going to Tennessee, Texas Tech and Texas Christian University before ultimately choosing to go to Oklahoma State University.
According to Spotrac, Hovland has earned over $6million from playing golf since the 2018/19 season. Over half of that came during the 2020/21 season as he has raised his profile on the PGA Tour.