In case you haven’t noticed, former Oklahoma State All-American and 2018 National Champion Viktor Hovland has been tearing it up at the highest level.
On September 15, at the Greenbrier Classic in West Virginia, the “Smiling Assassin” carded his seventeenth(!) consecutive round in the 60s at a PGA event; a streak that dates back five tournaments to the Rocket Mortgage Classic in June and tied the record set by Bob Estes in 2001.
The world ranked 93rd Hovland has yet to win an event, but victories are certainly on the horizon, especially considering his exceptional play on Sundays. During his streak of seventeen rounds under 70, he never shot worse than 65 on Sunday.
At the BMW PGA Championship on the European Tour a week after the Greenbrier Classic, he extended the streak—which didn’t count towards the record because it was a European event—to nineteen before carding a 70 on Saturday.
But the Norwegian doesn’t care about the streak. “In the first Korn Ferry Tour event, I shot two rounds in the 70s, and I don’t think people noticed that, so the streak isn’t maybe as long as people think it is. So I didn’t really think about it,” he said after his first round at the BMW, which was in Surrey, England.
What’s more important is who’s noticing his play. On Thursday in England he was paired with Padraig Harrington, the captain of the European Ryder Cup team, who had nothing but praise for the rising star.
“What I learned today was what a great attitude he has, how relaxed he is and the fact he plays such fearless golf. It’s only to be admired. I guess he plays like a 22-year-old—he’s confident and strong mentally. And no, he didn’t exceed my expectations. But don’t take that the wrong way. I had high expectations, and he certainly lived up to them.” Harrington told Golf Digest.
Four time major winner and one of the biggest names in golf, Rory McIlroy, would love to have Hovland on the team. “I played a practice round with Viktor at the US Open at Pebble Beach in June [when Hovland was still an amateur and finished 12th] and I was very impressed,” the Irishman said. “If Viktor keeps playing the way he’s playing, he’ll be a wonderful asset for our team next year.”
Of course, the ever-enthusiastic Hovland would love to play in the Ryder Cup. “It would mean everything to be part of the team,” said Hovland. “Even though professional golf is really cool, I loved college golf and being part of a winning team and I still think about the times we had. There’s nothing better.”
Hovland was 5-0 in the matchplay format for the Pokes at the NCAA Tournament last year. Obviously the Ryder Cup will bring stiffer competition, but there is no reason to doubt Hovland is cut out for it.