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LAS VEGAS – Viktor Hovland is not sulking.
He isn’t breaking out in anger thinking about what might have been.
He’s not kicking himself for not doing more.
Yes, being on the losing side in his first Ryder Cup still stings, but the 24-year-old who is wise and mature beyond his years has chosen to soak up the positives instead of immersing himself in the negatives of Europe’s humbling 19-9 defeat to the U.S. two weeks ago in Wisconsin.
“The loss went over pretty quickly because it obviously wasn’t that close,” Hovland said Thursday after finishing his first round in the Shriners Children’s Open at TPC Summerlin. “If it came down to one putt that I missed on the last hole or something, that would have been tough to get over, but we got beat just by the better team and that’s how it goes sometimes.
“Obviously it sucked, but I try to learn from kind of everything that happens and try to turn it into something positive.”
Hovland played far better than his 0-3-2 record would indicate as he seemed to run into red, white and blue buzzsaws whenever he got to the first tee. His record won’t stand out in his memory bank; the team room and his play on the Straits Course at Whistling Straits will.
“Just some great memories, just being around my teammates,” he said. “Being on that team I’m surrounded by legends of European golf the last 20, 25 years. So that was just incredible.
(Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
“As far as my golf game, I was able to hit some really nice shots under the biggest pressure I’ve ever had and I take a lot of comfort knowing that I can perform at that level and it should be a walk in the park out here, relatively speaking. Obviously golf is still hard, but just for me to just trust what I’m doing instead of playing with fear, just step up and commit to the shot, if it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t work out, but I’m not worrying about the result.”
The rising star from Norway, who won the 2018 U.S. Amateur, won low amateur honors the following year in the Masters and U.S. Open, and has two PGA Tour titles on his resume, made his season debut at TPC Summerlin.
It was one of those rounds that will challenge him to remember the positives instead of the negatives. He began his round on the 10th tee under an overcast sky with three consecutive birdies and added four more at the 16th, 18th, sixth and seventh. But a bad hop on the par-3 14th led to a bogey and a horrible lie in a greenside bunker on the par-3 eighth led to a double bogey.
Then he finished his round by three-putting from 45 feet on the par-5 ninth to finish with a 4-under-par 67, six shots behind pace-setter Sung Kang, whose 61 was one shot short of equaling the course record.
“Obviously a great start,” Hovland said. “Hit the ball awesome and just kind of didn’t make many mistakes. On the 14th hole, I hit a great shot, just one-bounced over the green and that was kind of a momentum killer. But I thought I bounced back pretty well and played really well the rest of the round, but then didn’t really make anything and toward the end I started making some putts and then again just a momentum killer on number 8 with the double bogey there and 3-putt on the last. So I felt like I played way better.”
Check the yardage book: TPC Summerlin for the Shriners Children’s Open
Hovland has risen quickly and is ranked No. 14 in the official world rankings. He’s given every indication his ascent up the world ranks will continue.
“I don’t like to set goals. You can play great and not win tournaments, so I think, for me, it’s just I need to keep doing what I am doing, because I’m playing really, really well,” he said. “I need to just get a little sharper on and around the greens, which I feel like I’m already showing promises there.
“Sometimes it goes your way and sometimes it doesn’t. But I feel like if I just keep working on what I’m doing over the course of a year, if we could just get a little bit better there that’s going to be huge.”
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