Viktor Hovland is making just his second start of 2024 and first on the American mainland.
While he couldn’t pick up his first career major championship victory in 2023, just about everything else went his way last year. He cashed in big with his FedEx Cup title. His big payday came on the strength of a win at Memorial and four top-20s in majors.
Hovland put to rest the storyline of a lack of top-10s in majors with T-2nd at the PGA Championship and T-7th at the Masters,
He was also a key cog for the victorious European Ryder Cup team. It was a banner year for Vik, who seems like he has what it takes to climb to world No. 1 in 2024.
Unfortunately for Hovland, he wouldn’t net enough points to get to the top spot in the OWGR with a win this week. It would have been a full circle to do it at the site of his 2018 U.S. Amateur victory.
His first trip to the Monterey Peninsula saw him shoot an even-par 72 at Pebble Beach and a one-over 73 at Spyglass Hill to finish T-24th in the stroke play portion of the event and easily make the top-64 cut for match play.
The Oklahoma State Cowboy put on one of the more dominating finals match performances in recent memory with a 6&5 victory to win in 31 holes.
Hovland was there a year later for the U.S. Open in his grand finale as an amateur. He posted 69-73-71-67 to finish T-12th and earn low am honors.
Hovland made his AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am debut in 2020.
He posted 2-under 70 Thursday at Spyglass Hill, 3-under 68 Friday, and even-par 72 Saturday at Pebble. Hovland was in good position to jump into the top-10 with a good final round. Instead, a 77 on Sunday sent him to T-38th.
Hovland made it back in 2023 where he played the courses in the same order, shooting 70-67-69-71 en route to T-13th. He was third in the field in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee (2.438); T-5th in two rounds at Pebble. For the tournament, he was T-5th in driving accuracy (80%) and T-9th in greens in regulation (75%).
His short-game stats weren’t great that week, or in most weeks in the first few years of his career, for that matter. Hovland’s turned that weakness into not just a net neutral, but into another positive in his well-grounded game.
Hovland can join rare air with Jack Nicklaus of winning a U.S. Amateur and a professional event at Pebble Beach. He now can get up and down reliably enough to navigate around Pebble Beach’s postage stamp greens. The iron game will still allow him to hit more than his fair share of greens in the first place.