AUSTIN, Texas — When Viktor Hovland steps on the tee field Wednesday morning at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, it should mark the primary time that the burgeoning PGA Tour star from Norway has ever taken a swing on a course in Austin.
But he’s actually no stranger to space golf followers, particularly those who comply with collegiate golf.
Hovland loved an All-American profession at Oklahoma State, the place he helped lead the Cowboys to the Big 12 Conference championship as a junior in 2019. He earned the coveted Ben Hogan Award later that year, which is given yearly to the highest males’s faculty golfer.
Since then, it’s been a quick stand up the rankings for the fresh-faced 23-year-old, the No. 13 seed at the match who’s ranked No. 31 on this planet and shall be a part of a difficult however winnable group that features regular American Kevin Streelman, native Texan Abraham Ancer and Austrian Bernd Weisberger, a star in Europe who has but to match that success within the States. Hovland, the primary Norwegian man to win a PGA Tour occasion, is a sneaky darkish horse to win the occasion with 28-1 odds.
But the Match Play presents a distinctive problem for Hovland, who hasn’t competed in match play since his newbie days.
“I do feel like I’m a newcomer still,” Hovland mentioned Tuesday after a apply spherical at sun-splashed Austin Country Club. “I haven’t played that many WGCs out here, and it’s the first time teeing it up here in Austin, so there’s still a lot of things that are new. (But) I’m going into the event thinking I can do pretty well, even though I am a first-timer here.”
Even although Hovland spent three years at Oklahoma State and severely thought-about becoming a member of the golf applications at Texas Tech and TCU, he has by no means performed a aggressive spherical in Austin. The Hill Country terrain instantly caught his eye, as did a number of the alternatives for these daring sufficient to flirt with catastrophe whereas navigating across the course’s deep pot bunkers.
“It’s pretty quirky with the rolling terrain, and it’s a great match-play course,” he mentioned. “I feel like you can really get it going and you can take a couple of risks where you probably wouldn’t have taken them in stroke play, so I think it will be an interesting tournament this week.”
And how does such danger come up in match play in comparison with stroke play?
“One example is just like if you’re four (strokes) down with six to play, you don’t really have a choice but to maybe squeeze an iron shot a little bit closer than you would have if it was a stroke play event,” Hovland mentioned. “So it just kind of changes the dynamic a little bit, depending upon what, if you’re up or down or, yeah, what the match is.”