Hovland eyes PGA TOUR membership at Wyndham Championship
August 03, 2019
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
Shot of the Day
Viktor Hovland's tight approach at No. 13 is the Shot of the Day
GREENSBORO, N.C. – The way Viktor Hovland sees it, he has nothing to lose on Sunday.
Win the Wyndham Championship, and the 21-year-old Norwegian barely three months removed from taking classes at Oklahoma State will be the newest-minted PGA TOUR member. He’ll be headed to New York City for THE NORTHERN TRUST and the FedExCup Playoffs.
Should he finish in a two-way tie for second or better, he’ll have his TOUR card. If not, Hovland will have earned enough FedExCup points as a non-member to head to the Korn Ferry Tour finals where he’ll have another chance to earn playing privileges on TOUR for the 2019-20 season.
Any of the three scenarios are well within the realm of possibility for Hovland, who shot a third-round 64 that moved him into a tie for fourth at 14 under, just three strokes off the lead held by Ben An.
“To be in the spot where I am right now after college, that's a pretty good spot to be in,” Hovland said. “I just try to take advantage of it.”
Hovland, who earned low amateur honors at the Masters and U.S. Open this year, is one of several high profile collegians who turned pro this summer. Two of them, Matthew Wolff and Collin Morikawa, have already won on the PGA TOUR – in their third and sixth starts as a pro, respectively.
Their stunning success over the last month motivates Hovland.
“Obviously, it does help because not even two months ago I played with them in a tournament in a national championship,” the Oslo native said. “I played with those guys for two, three years now and it's cool to see them do really well.
“Obviously, that kind of inspires me to think that I can do the same things as they've accomplished, but it's not going to be given to you and you have to go out there and earn it.”
Hovland, who is playing for pay for just the fifth time this season, teed off 20 minutes before Wolff and quickly climbed the leaderboard with five birdies in his first seven holes. Wolff noticed, and he was glad to see his former Oklahoma State teammate playing well.
“It's cool that he's still up there,” said Wolff, who shot 67 on Saturday and is 11 under. “I already got my card and so did Collin. And so, I guess it's time for him now. This the last event of the regular season, so hopefully he can make the most of it and join me and Collin in the Playoffs.”
Hovland’s fast start Saturday had people wondering whether there might be another 59 like the one Brandt Snedeker shot a year ago at Sedgefield Country Club, a Donald Ross gem known for yielding low scores. After the 30 on the front, though, Hovland only managed two more birdies and bogeyed the 14th hole.
“I was really feeling it … five under through seven is a good start,” Hovland said. “I was a little disappointed that I wasn't able to keep that going because I was thinking something special was out there, but after birdie on 18, was nice to kind of give myself some confidence going into tomorrow.”
Hovland led the field in three Strokes Gained categories – Off The Tee, Approach The Green and Total – on Saturday. Through three rounds, he ranks first in Strokes Gained: Off the Tee and second in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green. He’s also first in driving distance and proximity to the hole.
His putter has been inconsistent, though, which Hovland hopes to shore up on Sunday. He took 31 putts on Thursday, 29 on Friday and 26 in the third round.
“Overall, I feel like I'm hitting it pretty good,” said Hovland, who has shot 64, 65 and 64 in the final round of his last three events. “There were a couple of bad shots here and there today, missed on a couple wrong sides I really shouldn't have. But yeah, if I could make more putts, that would really help.
“But it was nice to see some going in earlier in the round and I feel like that kind of gave me some more confidence.”