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Viktor Hovland and Kris Ventura grab lead at Zurich Classic with best-ball 62

AVONDALE, La. – Growing up in Norway and as teammates at Oklahoma State University, Viktor Hovland and Kris Ventura determine they’ve performed a whole bunch of rounds collectively. How about as a two-man crew?

“Still a lot,” Ventura stated.

That pure chemistry labored wonders on Thursday as they stormed residence with 9 birdies of their closing 12 holes at TPC Louisiana to submit a best-ball rating of 10-under 132 within the first spherical of the Zurich (*62*) of New Orleans.

“The mindset overall is just that we know each other pretty well and we’re comfortable around each other, so it was going to be a fun day no matter what,” Hovland stated. “Obviously we played well today, but it’s always fun to play together, and we don’t get to do that very often in a tournament especially. It definitely brings back some memories to national teams in Norway and college golf, for sure.”

Zurich (*62*) of New Orleans: Leaderboard | Yardage book

Ventura stated he was 13 and Hovland 11 after they first met in Norway and grew to become teammates on the nation’s nationwide golf crew. Donnie Darr, who later grew to become an assistant coach at Oklahoma State, was teaching at Ohio State and out of scholarship cash to supply Ventura, so he suggested Oklahoma State males’s coach Allan Bratton that there was a junior golfer from Norway he ought to take a look at. That was sufficient to persuade Bratton to journey to observe Ventura compete within the European Boys crew championship in Scotland. He ended up getting a two-for-one deal after discovering Hovland.

“I happened to play a singles match just right behind him,” Hovland stated, “and that’s kind of when Coach Bratton became more familiar with the Norwegian team, and yeah, we just started a good kind of relationship.”

Bratton pegged Hovland a future prospect and signed him to a scholarship two years later. He would go on to win the 2018 U.S. Amateur at Pebble Beach and already has claimed two PGA Tour titles whereas rising to World No. 15. Ventura has lagged a bit behind, notching two Korn Ferry Tour victories in 11 begins however stays winless on the PGA Tour and at the moment ranks No. 248 on the planet. Hovland understands simply how onerous it’s to win at the best degree and is assured that Ventura’s time will come.

“From what I’ve seen the last couple days in Kris’s game, I’ve been really impressed. I mean, I know he’s capable of it. He has a lot of talent,” he stated. “I think it’s just to kind of get more comfortable around here and just seeing more of what he did today, just to get that confidence and get the ball rolling, it won’t be too long I don’t think.”

On a windy opening day, Ventura and Hovland obtained off to an inauspicious begin with only one birdie of their first six holes of the best-ball format. Then the birdies started to fall in bunches.

“Kris decided to heat up his putter,” Hovland stated. “That really helped.”

Most of their birdies have been from inside 10 toes, however Ventura drained back-to-bombs at Nos. 15 and 16, from 36 toes and 20 toes, respectively.

These previous associates confirmed they’re conversing of their native tongue between the ropes and Hovland famous that at one faculty event Ventura, who was born in Mexico, his father’s native nation, however raised in Norway, his mom’s native nation, rotated between three languages – Norwegian, English and Spanish – in writing his notes in his yardage e book, utilizing a distinct language each gap.

“I can’t imagine what’s going on in his head,” Hovland stated.

It’s too early for Ventura to start out enthusiastic about successful his first PGA Tour title, however a birdie at the final by Hovland obtained the crew to double-digits below par and a one-stroke lead over a handful of pursuers, including Billy Horschel and Sam Burns. For now, they’re simply having fun with the prospect so as to add to their complete variety of rounds performed collectively.

“We don’t get to play with each other very often, so this is certainly a treat,” Hovland stated.

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