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COVERAGE: Hovland’s Quick Rebound Bodes Well For Memorial Title Defense




DUBLIN, Ohio — In last year’s Memorial Tournament, Viktor Hovland had one of many memorable weeks, winning for the first time on U.S. soil, prevailing in a playoff over Denny McCarthy, but the last few months have proven to be quite challenging for the Norwegian.

Hovland’s previous form, that saw him capture last year’s FedExCup, saw him take a step back as he parted from coach Joe Mayo opting instead for Grant Waite and Dana Dahlquist.

At Memorial Tournament media day May 7, Hovland admitted that his game has not been much to brag about as there had been plenty of up and down as it relates to his ball striking, something which had created a good amount of frustration.

“I’m not necessarily trying to do anything differently, not to get super into it but I had a couple of inputs that I tried to do, and I did it a little bit too much,” he revealed. “Over(did) certain things and my compensations to get out of that changed a little bit.

“It wasn’t something I changed, but I exaggerated a couple of things and a couple of other things changed as well. Trying to work it back to the root cause and go from there.”

As he broke down last season, Hovland determined that he was fighting a double-cross left miss off the tee and was not as comfortable hitting the cut shot he normally hits.

Despite winning the FedExCup last year, he said he actually preferred his ball striking in 2020-21 because his subjective feel for his swing was better during that time.

That said his feeling at the time was a desire for his swing to be in a better spot, but that golf has a funny way of working itself out and that you are never as far off as you seem.

“Even when I won the FedExCup, I played great obviously, but I hit a few more draws than I would have liked,” offered Hovland. “I am standing over the ball feeling a cut, but the ball draws and that in your head, you don’t get the most confidence from that, but I knew where the ball was going, so I could play golf. In a tournament you’re trying to make the most of it. In the offseason I wanted to get back to this cut and it was not quite as easy.”

Hovland did not divulge too much as for why he parted ways with Mayo, rather opting to explain that some “personal reasons” went into going in a different direction.

There are never too many answers for Hovland, and he likes the process of both improving and getting better. In order to do that, Hovland decided to go in a different direction.

He did however make it clear that the media provides a narrative that he likes change for the sake of change, but to him that is not the case.

“This game is crazy, and you will do different things whether you try to or not and it is not like you wake up and shoot 66 each day,” he divulged. “This game is hard so I’m constantly trying to figure it out.”

At the time of the interview, Hovland was actively working on technique within his swing, stating that there has to be a conscientious effort to make a move.

He did look at video to compare and contrast different things within his swing to see what results were and if he would have to go back to the drawing board.

Days later, Hovland fired a final round 69 at the Wells Fargo Championship, which tied his third lowest score to par at that time.

Hovland’s confidence has to come from within and based on what he accomplishes in practice. Once control over the ball is achieved, he can then play golf.

It has absolutely been a process all season but Hovland reunited with Mayo in the days leading up to the PGA Championship, this after nearly withdrawing prior to the season’s second major.

Since the pair have reunited, it is clear that Hovland’s game is rounding back into form. Mayo knows Hovland’s swing well and wanted a familiar set of eyes to look at it.

After the first round of the PGA Championship, Hovland stated he had not necessarily found something, but used some of the feels Mayo was giving him and shot a 3-under 68, which wound up being his worst round of the week.

“I’m surprised in the sense (of) just how far away I felt last week,” Hovland said following the third round. “I’m not surprised in the way that I’m here because, like, I never doubted my abilities. It was just kind of my machinery was not working very well. As soon as I get the machine kind of somewhere on track, I can play.

“There’s nothing wrong with me mentally or I never doubted I couldn’t play golf anymore. It’s just like the technique was not good enough to compete. Now we’re moving in the right direction. I already saw it was better a few days ago right before I was playing the tournament. I thought, we can maybe do some damage this week, but this has exceeded all expectations. That’s for sure.”

In just a couple of weeks, Hovland will be defending his Memorial Tournament triumph this time in a signature event which expects to have between 70 and 74 golfers in it, given this year’s event will be held the week prior to the U.S. Open.

“Memorial is unbelievable place and the first time I was there I played during COVID (in 2020) and it was very soft,” he concluded. “I played really nicely that week and finished third but as soon as they stopped mowing the rough and the greens got firm, I didn’t have the game to compete. I didn’t have enough spin and didn’t hit it far enough. I

“would hit a lot of nice shots that would land on the green, bounce over to the rough or bunker and then everything on the green slopes down and the green is down. That was a challenge, but with the hard work last year I conquered the place if you will. I have great memories, but the memories alone are not going to move my golf ball.”

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