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Viktor Hovland vows to 'get one soon' after US PGA near miss

Viktor Hovland vows to 'get one soon' after US PGA near miss

Viktor Hovland narrowly missed out at the 2023 US PGA Championship but felt his performance showed he is a Major Champion in waiting.

Hovland 2105

Hovland finished tied for second place, two shots behind Brooks Koepka at seven under par, after a closing 68 at Oak Hill Country Club.

While he was left to rue a double bogey on the 16th hole, where his ball plugged in the face of a fairway bunker, the Norwegian believes the final step is not far away.

"It sucks right now, but it is really cool to see that things are going the right direction," Hovland said, having also finished joint-seventh at the Masters Tournament and joint-fourth in last year's Open Championship at St. Andrews.

"If I just keep taking care of my business and just keep working on what I've been doing, I think we're going to get one of these soon."

Hovland went into Sunday in the final group, tied on five under with Corey Conners and one shot behind Koepka.

He responded well to the American's three early birdies, making back-to-back gains of his own at the fourth and fifth to turn two behind and then narrowing the gap to one as he birdied the 13th and 14th.

Two holes after that, though, came the defining moment. Hovland found sand down the right of the fairway and amazingly suffered exactly the same fate as Conners 24 hours earlier, drilling his ball into the face from where he had to take a free drop.

The error cost him two ultimately crucial shots and, asked about it afterwards, he said: "Just didn't get out of the bunker. Plugged in the lip and tried to get a drop and made a double bogey."

Hovland bunker

On the round as a whole, he added: "It was hard. I didn't hit every single green out there and had some bad swings and left myself in some spots where I had to rely on my short game. I thought I did. If I wouldn't have got those up and down, I wouldn't even have a shot coming down the stretch.

"It's not easy going toe to toe with a guy like (Koepka). He is not going to give you anything, and I didn't really feel like I gave him anything either until 16.

"So I feel like I belong out here, and I just have got to get a little bit better, and hopefully it goes my way the next time.

"First place is a lot better than tied for second, but it is fun to even just have a chance.

"That was my second time and been in contention for three of these. That's pretty cool. There's another one coming up pretty soon."

He was not the only European Ryder Cup hopeful to enjoy a productive week at Oak Hill, and Rory McIlroy, who finished tied for seventh at two under and admitted he "was able to scratch out a decent performance", echoed Hovland's assessment.

"He's putting himself in position," said the four-time Major Champion. "Jack Nicklaus won 18 majors, but he finished second 19 times. So it's all about putting yourself in position and giving yourself chances.

"I've seen Viktor the last couple of nights, he's been the last one here working on his game. If he keeps doing that sort of stuff, one will fall into his lap."

Ryder Cup Captain Luke Donald was in the field and Austria's Sepp Straka, who shot a closing 65 to finish alongside McIlroy, said: "I don't think I ran into him this week but I've known Luke for a little while now and he's a great guy. I'm not thinking about it while I'm playing but definitely think about it as a goal."

Justin Rose was also in the top 10 at one under with Shane Lowry and Victor Perez level par and Tyrrell Hatton one over, all in the top 15.

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