PGA Tour: Viktor Hovland Discusses First Win on Tour Prior to Honda Classic Debut
02/27/2020 by Golf Post Editors
PGA Tour professional and rookie sensation Victor Hovland recaps his maiden PGA Tour victory last week ahead of the 2020 Honda Classic.
PGA Tour professional and rookie sensation Victor Hovland recaps his maiden PGA Tour victory last week ahead of the 2020 Honda Classic.
PGA Tour: Viktor Hovland speaks on his first Tour victory and Honda Classic debut
DOUG MILNE: We’d like to welcome Viktor Hovland. Thanks for joining us for a few minutes here at the Honda Classic, making your first start at the Honda Classic and coming just a few days after your first career PGA TOUR win at the Puerto Rico Open. I was thrilled to be there with you for that. If I could start by taking you back to San Juan, obviously the dramatic putt there on the 72nd hole to get the job done. Just kind of a little bit of a reflection on the week and getting your first TOUR win last week.
VIKTOR HOVLAND: Yeah, I mean, it was — it definitely just looking back at last week, it felt like a really long week. That was kind of — I’ve had some back-door kind of top-15 finishes, some top-10 finishes, but it’s been very back-door, and last week I was kind of in contention, from not quite the get-go but had the co-leader from the second round and definitely felt the extra pressure of kind of being up there the whole way. It was a really long week, but to find of finish it off the way that I did felt really good.
DOUG MILNE: You mentioned the extra pressure. You’re one of these ones that as soon as you set foot out here on the PGA TOUR, expectations were pretty high. Is that something that you were aware of, kind of the expectations, given your history as an amateur and so forth growing up in the game, the expectations for you to get that first win right away?
VIKTOR HOVLAND: Yeah, they were — yeah, I definitely felt it. It was kind of weird just having people expect so much from you when I haven’t had quite the finishes that maybe warranted those expectations, but I kind of just stuck with within myself and tried to perform the golf that I know I’m capable of, and fortunately last week it came out, and I hope in the future that I keep — that I can get that out more often.
DOUG MILNE: Just some thoughts on being here this week, shifting gears and getting back to business as usual. Have you had a chance to get out and kind of see how the course sets up for your game?
VIKTOR HOVLAND: Yeah, I played 18 holes here yesterday in the evening, so it was a little windy and the greens were really firm and fast, completely opposite from last week. I’ve actually never been here before. I didn’t play the Polo Junior here or the junior tournaments that a lot of guys have played, so that was the first look at the course, and it’s tough, and it’s a really good test of golf.
Q. With that victory, do you come here feeling momentum, or is there something more difficult than we understand about winning and then having to play again right away?
VIKTOR HOVLAND: I mean, I would say I just come into the tournament with a lot of confidence. Obviously it’s a way different course. It’s a lot longer, and it requires kind of different shot making. But I’m definitely taking a lot of the confidence that I had with my irons going into this week, and if I can just keep hitting fairways and hit my irons the way that I have been, I think it’s going to be another good week.
Q. Viktor, it’s different for everybody, I’m sure. We know what comes with winning in terms of the prize, the money, the points, the status, all those things. But it’s only been a couple of days, but do you feel like there’s been a mental change, an emotional change? Other than the stuff you get, what do you think really changed now that you can say that you’ve won one of these?
VIKTOR HOVLAND: Well, I think it’s just a little sense of relief. I was in a spot where I didn’t really know quite what tournaments I would play except for a couple weeks ahead, so this certainly gives me a little bit more leeway to really pick the events that I want to play. But still, I’m kind of right outside the top 50 in the world, so I can keep playing well and get inside there, that would really get to the next step, and then I could really pick my schedule, and yeah, try to figure out where I want to go. But except for that, it’s another week, and I’m going to try to do the best that I can.
Q. How did you celebrate?
VIKTOR HOVLAND: Me and my caddie and a couple other people, we just got some food at the restaurant at the hotel and had a couple drinks and went to bed and flew out the next morning.
Q. How much is Ryder Cup on your mind this year? Obviously a long ways off, but that sort of went a long way toward that, as well. Have you heard from Padraig or anything along those lines?
VIKTOR HOVLAND: Yeah, hopefully it didn’t hurt, and no, I’ve been looking at Ryder Cup as something that I want to play in for a really long time, and it’s certainly, I would say, pretty much the pinnacle of a golfing career, being on a Ryder Cup team. I saw Padraig yesterday. He said congrats, so that was great, and hopefully I can just keep playing well and kind of make more of my mark that maybe I have a chance to be on the team.
Q. Speaking of your schedule, you’re now in the field at THE PLAYERS Championship. Have you played that course before? Do you have any experiences there, and just your general excitement to play at Sawgrass?
VIKTOR HOVLAND: Yeah, I played Junior Players there the year before I went to college, so that would have been 2015, I believe. It was a different time of year and the rough was really thick, and it was playing really soft and long at the time. So it’ll be different or interesting to see how it plays this year. But the course is awesome. I think it’s maybe one of my favorite courses I’ve played in Florida. I think sometimes in Florida you get not boring courses but everything is kind of right in front of you, but at TPC Sawgrass, I feel like everything is just — every hole is just completely different, and it really tests your arsenal of shots. I think it’s a really good test of golf.
Q. Can you take us a little bit down the path of how a kid from a place known for winter sports becomes a player on the PGA TOUR?
VIKTOR HOVLAND: Yeah. I mean, my dad got me into playing golf, and since I was really young, I always played golf. When I got a little older, I wanted to practice all year-round, and somehow I ended up at Oklahoma State, and that kind of made the process go a little faster. I learned a lot those three years in college under Coach Bratton and Coach Donnie Darr. So yeah, it’s kind of crazy to think that we’re here just under a year later since I was in college.
Q. Who are role models for you if you didn’t have a lot of guys from your country playing? Who are the guys you watched and learned?
VIKTOR HOVLAND: Well, we had one PGA TOUR player currently playing when I was kind of younger and growing up, Henrik Bjornstad, so I was kind of following his scores every week when he was playing, and obviously born under the Tiger era, so certainly was very inspired by what he was doing on the course, and I really liked kind of the flair that Sergio Garcia had while playing. So just looking at — I would kind of take pieces from every single player and kind of like some of what he was doing, then this guy would do something else that I would think was pretty cool. It was mostly Tiger, but I would kind of pick something from all of them.
Q. Usually for a player the first or second year on the TOUR is going to be a tough acclimation, not just on the course but off the course, culturally. Have you had any of that, not knowing where to go, not knowing who to sit with in the dining room, that kind of thing?
VIKTOR HOVLAND: A little bit because I would say I’m a little shy person naturally. But I think it’s great for me to kind of get out of my comfort zone a little bit and kind of challenge myself with just, okay, I’m just going to do my thing, and if there’s people sitting there, I’m just going to go down there and sit there and say hi to everyone and kind of get out of my shell a little bit, and I feel like I’ve definitely come a long ways, and yeah, I feel like I’m somewhat getting the hang of it.
Q. Is it a hard thing, though, and does it help to be playing as well? Does that make it easier?
VIKTOR HOVLAND: I don’t know. I haven’t really thought much about it, but I guess it helps a little bit, gets you that extra confidence to kind of sit down and do those things. But you don’t really want kind of your results to be the driving factor behind it, you just want to be the person that you want to be.
Q. This victory brings a lot more attention to you. You had a lot of attention from before, but now even more. Do you like that, or do you just feel like you want to play golf and shy away from all the crowds?
VIKTOR HOVLAND: I mean, it’s nice to have the attention because then that really shows that you’re doing well. But kind of obviously sometimes when you’re done with a round, you just want to sign the scorecard and go to your room. You don’t really want all the extra attention. I mean, there’s good parts and bad parts with it.
Q. You’re known for being Twitterless Viktor, and back home in Norway, everyone is wondering are you going to be on Twitter?
VIKTOR HOVLAND: After the win on Sunday, I got so many text messages, I couldn’t even respond to half of them, so if I got a Twitter, that would just make it even worse, so probably not.
Q. You touched on this a little bit before in terms of being able to set your schedule and knowing where you’re playing. What are you kind of most excited about after the win, or looking forward to the most?
VIKTOR HOVLAND: Yeah, I mean, obviously getting into the PGA Championship is going to be a lot of fun. I haven’t played that major. THE PLAYERS is going to be awesome to play in, and hopefully I can kind of keep my ranking and get into the Match Play event that’s coming up. I’m really a big fan of match play, and I would say I’ve played some of my best golf in matches, so hopefully I can get in there and do well. I mean, there’s so many cool tournaments out there. Just whenever the next tournament I’m playing, I’m pretty excited, and then we move on to the next, then the next, then the next.
Q. Augusta I would imagine would be on that list of —
VIKTOR HOVLAND: It’s up there.
Q. Curious your earliest memory of the Masters.
VIKTOR HOVLAND: I don’t remember. I couldn’t tell you.
VIKTOR HOVLAND: I couldn’t tell you. I don’t remember things like that, if back in 2004 I was watching the Masters. I don’t really remember that stuff.
Q. How about Tiger?
VIKTOR HOVLAND: I think it was in elementary school sometime, just watching golf and seeing him fist bump, go crazy. I couldn’t tell you.
Q. Congratulations on not being on Twitter officially makes you the smartest person in the room, so good job on that.
VIKTOR HOVLAND: Thank you. Setting the bar high.
Q. I know you just played the course for the first time last evening, but everyone knows 15, 16, 17, but those are obviously not the only hard holes. 6 can be brutal, 11 can be brutal. Did the course live up to the expectation of how hard it can be?
VIKTOR HOVLAND: Yeah. I played — I went off 10 yesterday with Matt Wolff and Martin Trainer, and it was into the wind on 10, and I didn’t hit very many balls after teeing off, and I kind of necked one. It was dead straight so I thought it was going to be fine, and I didn’t check my yardage book or anything, I just stepped up to the tee and what happened it, and yeah, I obviously necked it into the wind, spun up a little bit in the air, and I walk up the fairway and I’m thinking it’s going to be in the fairway, and it’s in the bunker like 260 out from the tee in the lip, and Shay is shooting the flag, and it’s like 235 to the pin. I’m like, This is a pretty easy par-5 if I just catch one. He’s like, “It’s a par-4, mate.” I was like, well, okay, that’s a good start to the week. But yeah, there’s a lot of really tough holes out there. But if you hit the ball good, there’s definitely opportunities to score.
Q. It’s hard to win at any level in golf, Korn Ferry TOUR, Euro Tour, certainly out here, and you and Collin and Matthew have stepped out in a matter of months and won. Do you find that remarkable, or is that just part of the plan?
VIKTOR HOVLAND: I think honestly when we were in college and looking forward to turning pro, that was definitely our plans, if you will, that we were obviously dreaming about it, but for all of us to have won within a year, I mean, it’s pretty remarkable. I don’t know how else to explain it. It’s a pretty crazy ride.
Q. Did Matthew’s win early on kind of give you more confidence that I can step out and do this?
VIKTOR HOVLAND: Yeah, I would say for sure because I played and practiced with him every day in college for two years, and I saw what he was capable of, and I knew what I was capable of. So certainly seeing him kind of laid the — broke the ice a little bit for me, I would think.
Q. Going back to Austin, what is it about match play that you like so much, and what are some of your favorite memories that you’ve had playing match play?
VIKTOR HOVLAND: I think it’s just that you get to play with the person that you’re playing against. You’re not necessarily playing — you’re not playing against the rest of the field or kind of the course. You just have to beat one guy, and to kind of see what he’s doing and then you have the opportunity to kind of combat that and be clutch I think is really cool. I have some great moments from obviously the U.S. Amateur and NCAAs, but even before that in the European Boys Team Championships that I would play back in 2013, ’14, ’15, representing Norway, and yeah, just had some great matches.
Q. Putting aside the fact that it would help you at this moment, you beat a very good field in Puerto Rico, a lot of good players out there. Do you think the Masters should reconsider its policy of not letting winners of opposite events into their tournament?
VIKTOR HOVLAND: I don’t know, I haven’t put much thought into it.
Q. Even after winning?
VIKTOR HOVLAND: I mean, it’s not up to me to decide.
Q. It’s not up to me, either.
VIKTOR HOVLAND: No. I mean, I don’t know what tournaments really get you into the Masters —
Q. Everything but the opposites.
VIKTOR HOVLAND: Okay, well, I don’t know. It is an opposite field event, so you can make that case. It’s just how the rules are. Obviously I’d like it to get me in, but I don’t think it should change just because I won it. I don’t really think it’s wrong or right.
Palm Beach Gardens, Florida
February 26, 2020
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