All four of Viktor Hovland’s appearances at the World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba have resulted in intrigue.
His first two trips to Mexico in 2018 and 2019 each sent him trunk slamming by one shot.
Undeterred, the Norwegian came back in 2020. Not only did he make it to the weekend, but he won the dang thing. Hovland fired 67-69-63-65 and erased a two-shot deficit entering Sunday. His 20-under total was two off the tournament record at the time.
Hovland beat Aaron Wise by a shot and was two clear of a pair in third place.
Hovland successfully defended his title last year and broke the tournament record. The former Oklahoma State Cowboy carded 67-65-62-67 to post 23-under and win by four over Mexican Carlos Ortiz.
Hovland was solid all around, statistically. He ranked T-4th in the field in driving accuracy (73.21%), sixth in scrambling (82.35%), and got up and down from the only bunker he found all week on Sunday.
"“Yeah, it’s a very narrow golf course and greens are soft,” Hovland was transcribed by Tee Scripts in 2020. “I feel like that sets up well for me. If I’m hitting good shots, I can hit the ball close and I’m not going to miss that many fairways.”"
Hovland followed it up with an exhibition win at the Hero World Challenge to close 2021 and won early in 2022 in Dubai on the DP World Tour.
It’s a bit surprising he hasn’t won on the PGA Tour since doubling up at Mayakoba. He’s still posted a ton of high finishes and may not be far from returning to his winning ways.
Hovland enters the week on a streak of eight top-35 finishes. That includes contending at The Open Championship (T-4th), BMW PGA Championship (T-5th), and ZOZO Championship (T-5th).
He ranked 15th on the PGA Tour last season in strokes gained per round approach (.606). He quietly was 25th in SG putting (.389) but was still a disaster with his short game.
As long as you’re keeping it in play like Hovland can do well, you don’t need a crafty short game to survive at Mayakoba.
That’s a reason why he’s played well here, and why I expect him to nearly pull off the trifecta.