Aug 01, 2020
Rookie Viktor Hovland Abandons Road Trip On The Way To PGA Championship
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SAN FRANCISCO (CNN) — Whether it be “On The Road Again” by Willie Nelson or “Don’t Stop Believin'” by Journey, compiling a playlist for a road trip is a key part of the experience.
Norwegian golfer Viktor Hovland, who has been driving between tournaments all across the US for the last few months to avoid flying during the coronavirus pandemic, has had to do the same, though his taste in road trip music was more a case of pedal to the metal.
“I listen to metal, but I listen to kind of a particular subgenre that’s called metal core,” Hovland told Shane O’Donoghue, host of CNN’s Living Golf show. “And it’s usually some kind of heavier stuff, a lot of screaming, but a lot of melodic parts and a lot of cool musicianship if you will.
“When I’m driving through the night, I’m getting pretty tired but it’s almost like I’m in a trance and I just keep my playlist going and I just get my head deep in the music and suddenly three hours fly by.”
But the trip to San Francisco for the PGA Championship was a bit too challenging. Hovland will travel by plane rather than car due to the estimated 31-hour drive from Oklahoma to California — to take part in the PGA Championship for the first time, which will be held August 6-9.
Although competing at the majors is a massive step up from normal PGA Tour events — “they’re more difficult tests, the courses are harder, greens are firmer and faster and the players are better” explains Hovland — the Norwegian insists he isn’t just going to make up the numbers.
“I’d say if I’m playing good with my game right now, I believe I can have a chance to win,” he said.
But ahead of the rescheduled majors and the continuation of the PGA Tour, Hovland isn’t putting unnecessary pressure on himself by setting unrealistic goals, explaining that the opportunity to improve his game is his main motivation.
“To be honest with you, I don’t really like to set a whole lot of goals. There’s a lot of things I would like to do; win a major, play the Ryder Cup and do all these great things,” he said.
Like fellow PGA Tour players Rickie Fowler and Alex Noren, Hovland is one of the many professional golfers who attended Oklahoma State University and the Norwegian still lives in Stillwater, Oklahoma.
Following golf’s restart on June 11 after it’s enforced break because of Covid-19, the Charles Schwab Challenge in Fort Worth, Texas was the first opportunity Hovland had to get back playing competitively.
And, because of the competition’s proximity to Oklahoma, the 22-year-old concluded that driving there meant he didn’t “have to get exposed to the virus.” And from there, one road led to another.
“I was thinking I’m playing the week after that, so then I’ve got to drive back up to Oklahoma again and then catch a plane to South Carolina,” explained Hovland, whose trip has made him a bit of cult figure on the golf circuit.
“And then I was just thinking: ‘What if … I just drive to all the events?’ And I was like: ‘Oh, that could be a lot.’ But I decided not to think about it and just go and do it and enjoy the hours of podcasts and music.”
From Fort Worth, Hovland embarked on a 16-hour drive to Hilton Head, South Carolina to play in the RBC Heritage. He then stayed at the home of his caddie Shay Knight in Charleston, before the two of them traveled to Hartford, Connecticut — a 13-hour jaunt — for the Travelers Championship
A 12-hour drive to Detroit, Michigan for the Rocket Mortgage followed, before a three-hour trip to Columbus, Ohio for the Memorial Tournament. After staying there for two weeks, it took Hovland 13 hours to drive back to Stillwater.
The Norwegian’s road trip — which was roughly over 4,000 miles in length — has been a way of making the journeys a “little bit more memorable” for Hovland, although he admits he’s now going to “give myself a little break.”
“You’re so used to just packing the bags, going to the airport, going to the next stop and then just play golf. So I kind of enjoy those moments, you’re in the middle of Mississippi or Louisiana or Pennsylvania and you’re just kind of going: ‘What on earth am I doing right now?’
“So it just kind of makes it a little bit more memorable, get some life experiences and just mix it up a little bit.”
Born and raised in Oslo, Norway, Hovland picked up golf at the aged of four after his father Harald returned from the US — where he had been working as an engineer — with some clubs for his son to practice with.
But, for the current world No. 31, watching clips of Tiger Woods on YouTube, particularly “that chip in during the 2005 Masters on 16,” was what really “propelled” Hovland’s passion for the game.
Since relocating to the US, Hovland has gone from strength to strength, consistently breaking records along the way.
As an amateur, he won the 2018 US Amateur at Pebble Beach — the first Norwegian to do so — which earned him a spot at the Masters, US Open, and the Open Championship in 2019.
At that US Open, Hovland finished tied for 12th and, with a 4-under total of 280 over 72 holes, broke Jack Nicklaus’ US Open scoring total record of 282 for an amateur he set in 1960.
Since turning professional in 2019, Hovland became the first player from Norway to win on the PGA Tour with his victory at the Puerto Rico Open in February, 2020.
His success has meant that Hovland is being placed in playing groups with some of the biggest names in golf. At the current World Golf Championships-FedEx St. Jude Invitational he was part of the same group as 2018 Masters champion Patrick Reed and four-time major winner Brooks Koepka.
Lining up alongside these greats of the game still feels “pretty surreal,” according to Hovland.
“Growing up, I would wake up early in the morning and watch the European Tour, even the Asian Tour and then at night, I would watch the PGA Tour,” added Hovland.
“I was watching so much golf and watching all these names and then suddenly I’m hitting balls right next to them on the range and even beating them in some cases.
“So that is pretty crazy, especially up in Norway, because some spots in the United States, if you’re a member at a really good course, it’s not uncommon for a random PGA Tour player to just show up and practice.
“That never happens in Norway. So in a way you’re so detached from that as a reality. So to then to kind of be there a couple of years later being in that other reality, it’s pretty crazy.”
News Source: cbslocal.com
How to Watch the PGA Championship First Round Live Stream Online
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Arguably the biggest sporting event since the start of the coronavirus pandemic gets underway Thursday — as pro golf contests one of its four majors, the PGA Championship, at Harding Park in San Francisco.
Tiger Woods is back — teeing it up for only the second time since the virus halted the golf season. In his return, at Jack Nicklaus’ Memorial Tournament three weeks ago, he finished in a modest 40th place tie, posting +6 for the four rounds at Muirfield Village. But Woods is already off to a solid start at Harding Park. As of this writing, the 15-time major champion is -1 through 10 holes, putting him just outside the top 20.
The lead currently stands at -5, and is shared by Martin Kaymer and Zach Johnson. Kaymer, the 2010 PGA Champion, and Johnson, a two-time major winner, have both struggled to replicate that form in recent years. Others in the early mix include 2015 PGA Champion Jason Day at -4, and Tony Finau at -3.
And also at -3 is two-time defending PGA Champion Brooks Koepka. Koepka has finished in the top four in an unfathomable six of the past seven majors, and has won three of them. His fast start bodes well for him being in contention once again this weekend.
The tournament, like almost all other sporting events in recent months, will take place without spectators. Nonetheless, anticipation is high — as the famed Wanamaker Trophy is undoubtedly the most coveted sports prize at stake since the start of the pandemic.
Coverage is already underway on ESPN+ — a paid subscription service. At 4:00 p.m. ET, the action switches to ESPN, and can be watched here for free with a cable subscription. The CBS golf team of Jim Nantz and Nick Faldo will be on the call.
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