DP World Tour Rankings leader Viktor Hovland says he comes into the 104th US PGA Championship with renewed confidence after working on his game as he seeks a maiden Major Championship title at Southern Hills Country Club.
The Norwegian began 2022 in a rich vein of form as he won his maiden Rolex Series title at the Slync.io Dubai Desert Classic in January, but despite registering three subsequent top tens on the PGA TOUR he saw room for improvement.
Hovland, the sixth-ranked player on the Official World Golf Ranking, has played just once since tying for 27th in the Masters Tournament, as he partnered Collin Morikawa to finish in a tie for 29th in the Zurich Classic of New Orleans last month.
“I would say I spent the last three weeks really well,” Hovland said at his pre-tournament press conference.
“I was not very happy with my game the last few weeks. Not that it was that far off, but I was just doing a few more dumb mistakes than I normally do.
“So, I was pretty motivated to get to work, and the last three weeks have been really good. I feel like my game is in a way better place.
“But at the same time, there's always stuff to work on, but I feel like my game is good enough to really contend this week, and I wouldn't be surprised if I get off to a nice start and play well this week.”
Since Hovland turned professional after the 2019 U.S. Open, where he earned low amateur honours after finishing tied 12th, he has gone on to win six worldwide titles but is arguably still to produce his best at the Majors.
In his seven Major starts as a professional, the 24-year-old had a career-best tie for 12th in last year’s Open Championship at Royal St George’s.
“It’s all about just trying to get better, and I feel like I’m on a very good trajectory,” he added.
“I’ve gotten a lot better since I first turned pro, and if I just keep doing the things that I need to do and get better, I’m going to hopefully win some events. Sometimes you can play great and not win a tournament. So, there’s a little bit of luck involved as well and I just try to control the things that I can control.”
It’s all about just trying to get better, and I feel like I’m on a very good trajectory.
His third appearance at the US PGA Championship carries extra significance as it takes place in his adopted home state of Oklahoma.
Hovland, a resident in the city of Stillwater, first played at Southern Hills while he was at Oklahoma State University and has since gone on to play the course on a number of occasions.
Asked whether he believes his game style suits the course, he replied: “I remember there being a lot more trees the first time I came here.
“They have added a bunch of length and they have made it a little bit more open, but at the same time you still have to drive it really well out here. So, from that aspect, I feel like it fits me really well. There’s no real faking it.
“But you have to have a lot of good short game shots around greens because it’s all fairway around the green. It’s not just like rough if you miss the greens. So, I think that kind of allows you to use some creativity around the greens.”