For Thursday’s opening round of the 87th Masters, Viktor Hovland sported a remarkable pink and white polo shirt, and his performance was truly stunning.
At the age of 25, the Norwegian golfer achieved a score of 70 or lower for the first time at Augusta National, shooting a 65 which is seven strokes below par and therefore tying for the first place position alongside Jon Rahm of Spain and Brooks Koepka of the United States.
Hovland stated that a good score was attainable, however it cannot be forced. He went on to say that it must be allowed to occur and if there are easy putts to be made, they must be sunk in order to get into a groove.
“It is one of those situations where if you push too much it will have a negative outcome.”
Koepka, ranked ninth in the world, astounded the spectators with five birdies and an eagle at the second hole, the result of a 25-foot putt.
Hovland commented that he had a good beginning, stating that he made some nice shots on the initial nine holes and a few putts, resulting in him being 6-under par after the eleventh hole. From there he was able to just coast to a 65.
”So that was awesome.”
The show he put on was thrilling, yet it could not compare to his shirt, a striking blend of pink and white azaleas with green edging, in honor of the gorgeous blossoms throughout Augusta National.
It was a combination of Picasso-style art and a paint spill, chosen by Hovland’s apparel sponsor – the same one that had dressed him in pink trousers last year.
Hovland declared, “I had no input in the decision; I just put on whatever they instruct me to put on.”
I believe these are a bit eccentric, yet I’d prefer them over the pink trousers I owned last year. Thus, we are making progress.
Despite the enthusiastic encouragement of the spectators as Tiger Woods, a 15-time major champion, and Xander Schauffele, the Tokyo Olympic victor, struggled to traverse the grounds due to leg traumas sustained in a car accident in 2021, Hovland managed to stay composed.
When Hovland heard that he was going to be paired up with Woods, who had been hosting the Hero World Challenge event in the Bahamas during the years in which Hovland claimed victory, his reaction was drastically different.
Hovland noted that his heart rate was increasing, but he reassured himself by thinking, “This is going to be thrilling!” He concluded that he should not be afraid, but instead accept the situation with enthusiasm.
If you aspire to triumph in this tournament, it’s essential that you don’t show fear when you face off against Tiger. Therefore, you must rise above such apprehensions.
– ‘Something clicked’ –
Hovland achieved his most impressive result at a major tournament when he tied for fourth in the British Open of last year. He has triumphed in three PGA Tour tournaments, with his most recent victories in 2020 and 2021 at Mayakoba, and also two DP World Tour events, the most recent of which being in Dubai last year.
Hovland had a rocky start to the year, but after tying for 20th at Riviera, he achieved 10th place at Bay Hill and tied for third at The Players Championship in March.
He declared that at Bay Hill he began to sense that the elements were coming together, and that the back nine at Riviera was very significant for him, even though it concluded in twentieth place.
It wasn’t something to get overly excited about, but when I got to the back nine, something seemed to click and I’ve felt increasingly confident in my game ever since then.