Abu Dhabi Golf Championship: Norway's Viktor Hovland one of golf's hottest prospects, but countrymen have been cold on the uptake
Hovland, 22, in the capital to take part in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, announced himself with a record-breaking run on the PGA Tour last year
A star very much on the rise, Viktor Hovland has been gaining a little more recognition back in his homeland.
That said, it’s still not at levels you would expect. Especially when the Norwegian, a former amateur world No 1, announced his arrival on the golf scene last year by finishing as the highest-placed amateur at both the Masters (tied-32nd) and US Open (tied-12th).
Hovland quickly turned professional, taking fourth at the Wyndham Championship in August, part of a record-breaking run on the PGA Tour in which he shot 19 straight rounds in the 60s. Soon after, he secured his tour card for this season.
At 22, and a graduate of the illustrious Oklahoma State University golf programme, he and fellow alumni Matthew Wolff and Collin Morikawa are widely viewed as golf's soon-to-be all-conquering next generation (the latter two have already won on the PGA Tour).
Just that Norway has been a little cold on the uptake.
“Definitely getting more attention, which is cool,” said Hovland on Wednesday, ahead of his debut at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, presented by EGA. “But golf is not the biggest sport in Norway. It's still cross-country skiing, downhill skiing and ski jumping. Those things are definitely taking more of the interest from the Norwegian public.”
So, then, why did he forgo the slopes for the fairways?
“Being a short, fat kid is not great for being on skis,” Hovland quipped. “Maybe downhill skiing, but I wasn't great for that, either.”
Fortunately, his golf game is trending upwards. Hovland prepared for this week's Rolex Series event by winning on Tuesday the inaugural Abu Dhabi Hero Challenge at Yas Marina Circuit. It represented a nice precursor to his tournament bow.
“Obviously [playing events of this stature] excites me," Hovland said, smile wide. "But I just try to do as well as I can."
Updated: January 15, 2020 03:38 PM