Far from being a lost cause, Viktor Hovland learnt plenty of lessons from the “beating” Europe received at last year’s Ryder Cup and aims to use them this season to improve as a player.
The 24-year-old has quickly established himself as one of the game’s best ball-strikers, but has openly admitted in the past that his short game isn’t up to scratch. Hovland ranked ninth last season for total strokes gained on the PGA Tour in spite of finishing 124th and 99th for chipping and putting respectively.
Ahead of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, the Norwegian spoke about his experience at Whistling Straits, where he made his debut for Team Europe in the biennial contest.
He said: “I think it was revealing for me, a few events I played, especially the Ryder Cup for example. Obviously we took a beating but I really felt like in a lot of the matches I played and with my team-mates, we had an upper hand in almost every match that we played. In particular we had great starts.
“But you know, the Americans, at least that week, I know it’s just one week, but it really, to me, stood out that I have a lot to gain around the greens and on the greens, and with my wedges. If I can continue to strike it the way I need to or I do, and just slowly improve around the greens and work on my inefficiencies, I think that’s going to make a big difference.”
It’s not the first time Hovland has made reference to his inadequacies with a wedge in hand. After securing his first PGA Tour victory at the 2020 Puerto Rico Open he jokingly told reporters “my chipping sucks”. Check out the clip below:
“I just suck at chipping.”Viktor Hovland’s first comments after securing his first PGA TOUR title 😂pic.twitter.com/tBJrDLcCY7February 24, 2020
In a bid to improve, Hovland then began working with veteran coach and renowned short game specialist Pete Cowen, and has since made inroads, although still loses strokes against the field per round.
The World No. 7 makes his first DP World Tour start of 2022, where a star-studded field has assembled to take on a new tournament venue, Yas Links. As one of the headliners, Hovland will be hoping to make it three wins in four after lifting back-to-back PGA Tour titles to close out 2021. He gets underway at 11.55 local time on Thursday alongside Collin Morikawa and Tommy Fleetwood.
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