June 19, 2019
By Andrew Tursky, PGATOUR.COM
- Viktor Hovland is making his professional debut at the Travelers Championship after finishing as the low amateur at the U.S. Open. (Harry How/Getty Images)
CROMWELL, Conn. -- Viktor Hovland, recently the No. 1 ranked amateur in the world, signed an equipment contract with Ping ahead of his professional debut this week at the Travelers Championship.
At last week’s U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, the 21-year-old Hovland finished T12 and set the record for the lowest 72-hole score by an amateur in U.S. Open history, breaking the record previously held by Jack Nicklaus. Earlier in 2019, Hovland also finished as the low amateur in the Masters, for which he qualified by winning the 2018 U.S. Amateur at Pebble Beach.
At Oklahoma State University, Hovland was a three-time All-American and won the 2019 Ben Hogan Award – an award presented to the top men’s college player – after a season that included three collegiate victories. Hovland was also a member of OSU’s 2018 National Championship-winning team.
Not only has Hovland been playing Ping products for three years, his connection to Ping runs deeper. Hovland was born in Oslo, Norway, while Ping founder Karsten Solheim was born in Bergen, Norway.
“Viktor’s connection to Norway makes the relationship even more special. The country has been fully behind him since he burst onto the scene as a young junior, and he’s continued to impress on so many levels,” said John K. Solheim, Ping President and Karsten’s grandson, in a press release. “I know my grandfather would be honored to have a Norwegian golfer of Viktor’s character and talent representing Ping.”
Hovland himself added: “The technology behind the equipment and the service they provide allows me to focus on getting better and not worrying about my equipment. The Norwegian connection is also really cool. Karsten Solheim and his family have done so much for the game of golf. Their support of Oklahoma State’s team and their role in developing Karsten Creek are just a couple of examples of the wonderful things they do for golf. I’m honored to be part of their golfing family and look forward to working with them as I begin my professional career.”
Oklahoma State University’s home golf course, Karsten Creek Golf Club, is named after Ping’s founder, and the university is part of Ping’s College Program, which began in the 1970s.
“We’ve been impressed with Viktor since we first met him when he was a freshman at Oklahoma State,” said Chance Cozby, Ping’s Vice President of Sports Development, in a press release. “During his time in Stillwater, he played PING equipment at various times and we continued to keep in touch with him through our regular visits to the school. When it became clear he was going to turn professional this summer, we identified him as someone who would be a perfect fit for our staff. We had a very productive testing session with him at Karsten Creek this spring, which ultimately led to where we stand today. We are extremely pleased Viktor is joining the Ping staff.”
Hovland, who has officially signed an equipment deal with Ping as a professional, took PGATOUR.COM through his club setup at the Travelers Championship. As he told PGATOUR.COM, however, his setup is likely to change over the coming weeks and months.
Driver: Ping G410 LST (draw setting, 9 degrees)
Shaft: Project X HZRDUS 6.5-flex 62 grams
Hovland says: “I just put this in the bag on Thursday morning of the U.S. Open. I drove it really nice and it was a big part of my success last week… I’ve been messing around with the different kind of heads and I felt like this was a great fit for me. I was struggling with a bigger left-to-right curve. I put it on draw [setting] and it keeps it neutralized a bit. I was able to hit a lot of fairways with it at the U.S. Open.”
Hovland led the field last week at the U.S. Open in Strokes Gained: Off the Tee.
3 Wood: Ping G410 LST (14.5 degrees)
Shaft: Project X HZRDUS Smoke 6.5TX 80 grams
Hovland says: “I really like [the way it] sits down because it looks like it has a lot of loft and it sits real tight to the ground, so for me it’s real easy to launch. I’m a guy who hits a lot of drivers off the tee, I don’t really like to hit a lot of 3 woods [off the tee]. So for me it’s key to have something I can launch up in the air and get it to stop on the greens, [such as going for] par 5’s in two. That’s been a great help for me.”
Driving Iron: Callaway X-Forged UT (21 degrees)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD-DI 85X hybrid
Irons: Ping iBlade (4-6 iron), Ping i210 (7-PW)
Shafts: KBS Tour-V 120X
In what is quite the unique iron setup, Hovland uses the smaller iBlade irons in his long irons, and the larger, more forgiving i210 irons in his shorter irons. This is opposite of what most other players do, but Hovland has his reasons, as discussed below.
Hovland says: “I’ve actually only had [the i210] irons for about a week or so. I used to have a full bag of iBlades, and last week I got the Ping i210s. I noticed that I actually got a lower ball flight because I was spinning it a little too much with the iBlades that I had… Last week at the US Open I felt like I was hitting my irons from 7-PW just a little high – they were launching a little too high and spinning a little too much for what I like to see. The greens were firm out there [at the U.S. Open] so you want them to land softly and spin, but they were just [spinning and launching] a little too much, and especially with the wind coming they were hard to control. I just happened to test out some i210s and immediately on the range I just saw them launch a little lower and they weren’t spinning as much. And they were flying in a way that’s normal to my eye. So they were in the bag immediately.
It’s opposite on the longer clubs (4-6 iron). You want to be able to launch them higher and I thought the iBlades were perfect for that. I can always launch it low with the longer irons, but if you can hit them high, you can attack any pin you want to. The iBlades have been really great for me so far.”
Wedges: TaylorMade Tour Preferred EF Spin Groove (50, 56 ATV and 60 ATV)
Shafts: KBS 610 Wedge 115 (50 and 56 degrees), KBS Tour-V 130 (60 degree wedge)
Hovland officially makes his professional debut at the Travelers Championship at 8:35 a.m. on Thursday morning.