Augusta, Ga. – Victor Hovland started last year’s Masters with a terrifying triple-bogie, but by the time he went from the sixth green, he had leveled. Clearly not ideal, he said.
“Instead of being scared and not firing every pin, which I shouldn’t,” Howland said, “I just try to reset and trust my game.”
Howland’s attitude is a particularly valuable asset at a place like Augusta National, where he finished 32nd in 2019 to earn less-amateur honors. It was then that Hovland, now ranked 4th, learned a valuable lesson.
“I think I was probably too bogged down in trying to be too perfect,” Hovland said. “It’s a staple.”
Last year, in his second appearance, 24-year-old Hovland tied for 21st and has already played enough at the Augusta Nationals to learn that no two days are the same.
Asked if he is comfortable here so far, Hovland said More comfortable.
“The course is tough,” he said. “It’s designed to make you feel uncomfortable.”
This is where experiences like the Ryder Cup have helped, he said. The former Oklahoma State star feels like he’s particularly “hanging out” the last nine. Although it is the ninth number, number 4-6 in particular, however, he feels there is more work to be done.
He played the first five holes on Tuesday before the course was closed due to bad weather.
“I think you have a tendency to go too high on the pin there instead of playing a more secure shot,” he said. “Those holes are the hardest on the course.”
Hovland famously told the world after his 2020 win in Puerto Rico that “I just suck at chipping.” He’s come a long way since then, of course, putting a lot of effort into his little game. This week, Howland said he is focusing specifically on controlling the spin around the greens.
“One thing that’s really important here is that the greens are about as firm as they are,” he said, “and if you miss some of the greens, you end up at a low point and you’ll have to stick to it.” You have to hit the air, and if you’re short-sided, you have to spin the ball.
“It’s not so much about the height, because I can flop it up in the air, but if you don’t have any spin, the ball is not going to stop. So, I played a practice round with Paul Casey yesterday, and I was watching him hit some shots over the green at 15. I was basically trying to get it somewhere close by bumping it into the slope, and he hit these nice, just like spinners, landed by the pin, and just stopped so quickly, and he did it several times in a row. It’s not like you only catch one that spins and then the next kind of tumbles. ,
Back to that opening triple-bogie from last year. The bounce-back speaks to the fact that Howland has a reputation as a smiley, jovial guy. On Tuesday, he was asked where it comes from. For starters, he said, he has a “very good job” and makes it a point to have something to look forward to.
“I think it’s a lot of genes,” Hovland said. “My mom and dad are very happy people. Norway is a very happy country.”
Countless reasons to smile.
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