Why Victor Hovland Is The RISING Star To Watch On The PGA Tour

Victor Hovland is fast becoming the man to watch on the PGA Tour. The first Norwegian to really make a mark in the world of golf by winning Tour events on both sides of the Atlantic, he is on a run of good form, most recently taking the Dubai Desert Classic, which lifted him to number three in the world. He says he’s eager to get a major…

RSNG What a start you have had to your professional golf career, with wins in your early twenties – twice on the PGA Tour and once on the European Tour? VIKTOR HOVLAND, THE FAST-STARTING SCANDINAVIAN “Well, I turned professional at the age of 21, so yes… the journey has been a good one up to this point. But I suppose it’s all about timing, because I decided to go into the pro game after the US Open in 2019.”

“So, if I hadn’t played so well that week at Pebble Beach and had the confidence to do so, you know, the Coronavirus pretty much shuts the world down and what happens then? Because I was in school immediately before I chose to turn professional.”

“Say that I waited until the next summer’s majors… well, there weren’t any. They were all delayed. So, that technically means that I would still have been in school and I’d be very surprised if this interview was actually taking place, haha!”

RSNG There’s always a bit of luck needed for anyone to achieve anything, but that talent still has to be there, doesn’t it? VH “Oh, for sure it does, and I don’t for a second forget the bits of good fortune or split-second decision-making along the way that have taken me to where I need to be; but I work extremely hard and have always prided myself on my work ethic.”

RSNG Even though you’re establishing yourself as a truly world-class golfer, do you ever pinch yourself when you realize that you’re actually playing with all these other greats? VH “Sometimes I do. But let me tell you that the PGA Tour is so busy that there are times that you don’t get the opportunity to think about that. As I say, I am thankful and I would never take things for granted knowing how hard it has been to get to this point.”

“Yet everyone at this level is here for a reason – because they have practised, worked very hard and they have talent. So, knowing that you are amongst other fantastic players who are the best in the world at what they do, it’s a great feeling; but you can’t let it get to you. You can’t walk around on a course looking at these greats. I am there on my own terms and that’s all I want to focus on.”

“I’m not going to give up my chance of becoming someone really important in golf by fixating on other players.”

My rookie season was tough and I learnt a lot, but it’s also made me who I am

RSNG So, you’re a Norwegian golfer and you’ve obviously got golf courses in your home country. What are they like in comparison to those that you’re playing on the Tour? VH “Well, we certainly don’t have any links courses that I can think of, for example. Links courses are always fairly firm and although we do have courses which are on the coast, they’re nothing like the ones which are used in the UK for the Open Championship.”

“It goes without saying that there is wind in Norway and that can be a big factor on courses which are sat on the coast. On one hand that’s something that can make you look an absolute fool if you don’t just your ball flight correctly; yet for practicing as a youngster and getting used to those conditions, I think I may have had an advantage growing up, and there will doubtless be occasions where that plays itself out in the years to come.”

RSNG You said earlier that the PGA Tour is very busy. There are between 20 and 30 tournaments a year and that means 20-30 different locations – mostly across the USA and then the Open and, of course, the Ryder Cup. Give us a bit of an insight about what the PGA Tour is like from a golfer’s point of view? VH “Yeah, it is a busy schedule, but also it can be fairly lonely. When I first made it onto the Tour – you’re talking about a 21-year-old kid who knows the names of the people he’s playing but is shy to talk to them – you are straight in there competing against them, being paired up with them. It’s a lot to take in; even my caddy was new to me.”

RSNG How come? VH “It was just the way it was – I was coming in from college and preparing to travel far and wide for the sport I loved.”

“I accepted there would be a lot of change, and having a new caddy would be one of them. I was lucky that Shay [Knight] came along – a really smart, intelligent, resourceful guy who has made me more professional by his mannerisms and approach to the course. He truly helped me a lot.”

“I think it’s fair to say the game of golf is hard enough no matter how you’ve played on the course, but at least when you’re going up through the ranks, it’s the case that once you’re finished you’re with people you know well - you’re having dinner with them, going out socializing.”

“Then, you get onto the Tour – my dream, make no mistake about it – but you don’t have the luxury of knowing people. So you don’t really do that much in the early days. You don’t have anyone there to help you – it’s the big, wide world! My rookie season was tough and I learnt a lot, but it’s also made me who I am.”

I’m not the type of person who is big on setting goals or aims, or anything like that… I prefer to concentrate on the individual parts of my game

RSNG Is it true that you were almost mobbed when you went home to Norway to play golf? VH “Haha, that is actually true, yes. Don’t think that’s me thinking that I am a rock star or anything!”

“I wanted to play some golf with my mates. But where they had booked wasn’t close to where I am from, it was about 90 minutes away.”

“So, we get there and on the first tee, I don’t know how many people are there, maybe about 200, I don’t know. It was an interesting experience because I was only playing for fun and then it felt like I was playing in front of a paying crowd at an event!”

RSNG So did they know you were going to be there? VH “It turns out that they had been tipped off because when my mates booked us to play, it had to be online and you have to put the names of each player. What was meant to be a fun and relaxing game actually turned out to be a really pressured round, haha!”

RSNG What are your aims for the future, then? A stack of PGA Tour wins, a major, a couple of majors, world number one? VH “Haha, well all or any of that would be nice. But I’m not the type of person who is big on setting goals or aims, or anything like that. I know what I am capable of on the golf course and if I can keep playing well, then I can shoot low numbers. If I shoot low numbers, I will be in contention to win any event.”

WHAT NEXT? Read the exclusive RSNG interview with UK PGA pro Lee Westwood.