The golfer who drove over 4,000 miles across the US to play in tournaments

“I listen to metal, but I listen to a particular kind of subgenre called Core Metal,” Hovland told Shane O’Donoghue, host of CNN’s Living Golf show. “And it’s usually a heavier kind of stuff, a lot of screaming, but a lot of melodic parts and a lot of cool music feel if you will.

“When I drive through the night I get pretty tired but it’s almost like I’m in a trance and I just go on with my playlist and I feel like I’m in the music and suddenly three hours go by. “

Take the open road

Like fellow PGA Tour players Rickie Fowler and Alex Noren, Hovland is one of several professional golfers who attended Oklahoma State University and the Norwegian still lives in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

After golf restarted on June 11 after his forced hiatus from Covid-19, the Charles Schwab Challenge in Fort Worth, Texas was the first opportunity Hovland had to return to competition.

And, due to the competition’s proximity to Oklahoma, the 22-year-old concluded that driving there means he doesn’t have to be exposed to the virus. And from there, one road leads to another.

“I was thinking of playing the next week, so I have to drive back to Oklahoma and then catch a plane to South Carolina,” said Hovland, whose trip made him a cult figure on the golf circuit.

“And then I was just like, ‘What if … I just drive to all the events?’ And I was like, “Oh, that could be a lot.” But I decided not to think about it and go do it and enjoy hours of podcasts and music. “

From Fort Worth, Hovland embarked on a 16-hour drive to Hilton Head, South Carolina, to play in RBC Heritage. He then stayed at his caddy Shay Knight’s home in Charleston, before the two headed to Hartford, Connecticut – a 13-hour jaunt – for the Travelers’ Championship.

A 12-hour trip to Detroit, Michigan for the Rocket Mortgage followed, before a three-hour trip to Columbus, Ohio for the Memorial Tournament. After staying there for two weeks, it took Hovland 13 hours to get back to Stillwater.

The Norwegian’s road trip – which lasted around 4,000 miles – was one way to make the trips “a little more memorable” for Hovland, although he admits he’s going to “give me a little break” now.

“You’re so used to packing your bags, going to the airport, going to the next stop and playing golf. So I kind of enjoy those moments, you’re in the middle of Mississippi or Louisiana or Pennsylvania and you’re just kinda like, “What am I doing now?”

“So it just makes it a little more memorable, get some life experiences and mix it up a bit.”

Hovland lines up a putt on the 17th green in the third round of the Workday Charity Open.
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‘It’s quite surreal’

Born and raised in Oslo, Norway, Hovland started golf at the age of four after his father Harald returned from the United States – where he had worked as an engineer – with clubs his son could ride with. lead.

But, for the current world number 31, watching Tiger Woods clips on YouTube, especially “that chip in the Masters 2005 on 16”, was what really “propelled” Hovland’s passion for the game.

Since moving to the United States, Hovland has been steadily breaking records along the way.

As an amateur, he won the 2018 US Amateur at Pebble Beach – the first Norwegian to do so – which earned him a spot in the Masters, US Open and Open Championship in 2019.

At that US Open, Hovland finished tied for 12th and, with a total of 4 under from 280 over 72 holes, broke Jack Nicklaus’ total record of 282 for an amateur he set in 1960.

Since turning pro in 2019, Hovland became the first Norwegian player to win on the PGA Tour with his victory at the Puerto Rico Open in February 2020.

Hovland poses with the trophy after winning the Puerto Rico Open.

His success has resulted in Hovland being placed in playgroups with some of the biggest names in golf. At the current World Golf Championships – FedEx St. Jude Invitational, he was in the same squad as 2018 Masters champion Patrick Reed and four-time major winner Brooks Koepka.

Aligning alongside these game greats always seems “pretty surreal,” according to Hovland.

“Growing up, I would wake up early in the morning and watch the European Tour, even the Asian Tour and then at night, I watch the PGA Tour,” Hovland added.

“I was watching so much golf and looking at all these names and then all of a sudden I’m hitting balls right next to them on the course and even beating them in some cases.

“So it’s pretty crazy, especially in Norway, because in some places in the US, if you’re a member on a really good course, it’s not uncommon for a random PGA Tour player to show up and walk away. leads.

“It never happens in Norway. So in a way you are so detached from it as a reality. So to kind of be there a few years later in that other reality is enough. crazy.”

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The road ahead

Hovland will soon travel to San Francisco – by plane rather than car due to the estimated 31-hour drive from Oklahoma to California – to compete for the first time in the PGA Championship, which runs August 6-9.

Although competing in the majors is a big step up from normal PGA Tour events – “these are more difficult tests, the courses are harder, the greens are firmer and faster and the players are better” explains Hovland – the Norwegian insists he’s not It’s not just going to make up the numbers.

“I would say if I play my game well at the moment I believe I can have a chance to win,” he said.

But ahead of the rescheduled majors and the continuation of the PGA Tour, Hovland doesn’t put unnecessary pressure on himself by setting unrealistic goals, explaining that the opportunity to improve his game is his main motivation.

“To be honest with you, I don’t really like setting a lot of goals. There are a lot of things I would love to do; win a major, play the Ryder Cup and do all those great things,” a- he declared. .

Hovland plays a stroke in the final round of the Rocket Mortgage Classic.
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“But I take a lot more pleasure in watching my game improve. So if I stand on the pitch and say I’m working on clubhead speed and I’m consistently 113-114 miles away ‘hour, and I just can’t get past that point and then I go to the gym and get stronger, working on technical stuff.

“And then let’s say in three months maybe 113-114 will be 117. And I kinda improve, it gives me that kind of sense of accomplishment and that’s how I get more motivated to. keep playing and playing.

“And I take more pleasure in being a better golfer, then I try to do it in a tournament, but the most fun I have is getting better at golf.

Whether it’s making long drives or driving the ball straight onto a golf course, Hovland’s early career success suggests he could have a lot more fun on his athletic course.

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