Golf

What Viktor Hovland was ‘fighting’ during career-best season

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Viktor Hovland at the AT&T Pebble Pro-Am earlier this year.
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For Viktor Hovland, 2023 was a banner year, with the 26-year-old Norwegian collecting three PGA Tour victories — including the mega-lucrative FedEx Cup-Tour Championship double that earned him a cool $18 million.
Now, the world’s No. 4-ranked player, Hovland should have been riding high approaching the 2024 season.
He’s charismatic and entertaining, thrives on the biggest stages and was a popular choice to pick up his first-ever major title this year. Momentum appeared to be on his side.
But golf is a cruel and deeply unpredictable sport, and in teh early part of this season Hovland has found himself fighting relatable frustrations as he battles inconsistencies in his game.
In three starts, he’s finished T22, T58 and T19. Not terrible, but far from his usual lofty standards.
At a recent press conference at this week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational, Hovland opened up about his shaky start and problems with his swing mechanics.
“It’s been a little bit frustrating so far this year,” he said. “Feel like my swing hasn’t been quite as good as it has been in previous years, so it’s felt like I’ve tried to prioritize just being home and practicing, putting a lot of work in. Don’t really want to fight through something while playing, it’s just not that fun, and I don’t see the point of it. Just been prioritizing time at home and, yeah, just taking care of the fundamentals.”
So does Hovland have a vision for where his swing should be? While reviewing different iterations of his swing over the years, Hovland said he noted that while he has been able to make multiple moves work, the year his swing felt most comfortable wasn’t during his remarkable 2023 season.
“I actually prefer my golf swing better in 2021,” he said. “Early 2021, I feel like my ball-striking was the best. Now don’t get me wrong, I definitely swung it well last year, but it wasn’t as good as I would have wanted. I was kind of playing more of a draw instead of playing the normal cut shot that I have been my whole career. I was kind of fighting that all throughout last year.”
Hovland had been working with Jeff Smith, then moved on to Joe Mayo and said he’s now been working with Grant Waite for the past couple of months. While he declined to go into specifics about the things the two are working on, he did offer up a few basic adjustments to help build back some confidence.
“I don’t want to get too into it, but I’m just like — basically, I’m just pressuring the ground a little bit differently and, yeah, just doing a couple things different off the ball that is causing a chain reaction,” Hovland said. “So, it’s just a matter of trying to get the swing started the right way, and I should be able to find my groove from there.”
While his swing remains a work in progress, Hovland knows that it’s just a matter of time until it all comes together for him — and with two T10 finishes at this tournament in the past two years, maybe this could be the week it happens.
“Even though my swing doesn’t feel great right now, I can still compete,” he said.

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