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Viktor Hovland’s Wild Week That Led Him to Being the Masters’ Low Amateur

Hovland talks Tiger, ditching one former Poke for another and what he learned about his game in Augusta.

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STILLWATER — After his U.S. Amateur victory in August, Viktor Hovland was asked what it was like following in the foot steps of guys such as Tiger Woods.

“Tiger who?” he jokingly responded.

Jump forward to Sunday, Hovland sat in Augusta’s Butler Cabin when he felt a hand on his shoulder. He turned around to see Woods, who had just captured his fifth Masters victory. Hovland was in the prestigious cabin as the tournaments lowest scoring amateur.

“I didn’t know what to say,” Hovland said. “I was just sitting down and kind of looking up. That was definitely the most nervous I was the whole week.”

Hovland said Woods complemented him on his play and told him congratulations before Woods took his seat next to Hovland.

When it cut to the two on television for the post-tournament interviews, Hovland and Woods were chatting. Hovland said he told Woods about him playing at the Junior Invitational at Sage Valley when Woods was there. Hovland said he went on to tell Woods how cool it was that he got to sit next to him in Butler Cabin. He said Woods was nice.

“The week went pretty quick, but then also when I look back at the whole week, it was a long week, too,” Hovland said. “There’s just so much that happened. After playing well and earning the low amateur recognition, that was pretty special. Getting to sit right next to Tiger, that was kind of the cherry on top.”

Hovland had time to kill after his round before Tiger’s infamous celebration at 18. A member took him, his coach/caddie Alan Bratton and Bratton’s son to Firestone Cabin, where they watched the final hour and a half of Woods’ return to the top of the golf world. Former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice was also in that cabin, interestingly enough. Hovland was moved to Butler Cabin when Woods got to the 17th hole.

Apart from his run in with Woods, Hovland was with a lot of golf’s greats this weekend. He got to learn from Sergio Garcia, Bernhard Langer, Rickie Fowler, Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson. Hovland said that group gave him tips and took care of him.

There were four former Cowboys competing at the Masters with Hovland. Bratton said Hovland particularly liked the time he got to spend with fellow Scandinavian Alex Noren.

“Both of them being Scandinavians, they got to speak some … I don’t know what they were speaking,” Bratton said. “Viktor’s from Norway. Alex is from Sweden, but they were speaking some foreign language that was the same, or at least they could understand.”

Hovland talked to former Cowboy Charles Howell about playing a practice round Wednesday before Hovland was presented with an offer he couldn’t turn down. In Bratton’s words, Hovland “ditched” Howell to play a round with Fowler and Johnson. Bratton said that led to some friendly banter between Hovland and Howell throughout the weekend.

There isn’t much left in college golf for Hovland to do. He has won a national championship, and is on his way to a second. He won the U.S. Amateur, and he was recently named a semifinalist for the Ben Hogan Award with teammate Matthew Wolff. Hovland, a junior at OSU, didn’t say this would be his final season of college golf, but this past weekend has given him plenty to think about.

“I think I played with a lot of really good players, and I saw that my game wasn’t that far from them,” Hovland said. “Obviously, there’s things that I need to improve and want to improve, but it’s cool to see that I can play kind of my everyday game and still hang with some of the best players in the world.”

 

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