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Hovland impresses on Open debut

Hovland impresses on Open debut

Viktor Hovland may not have played links golf in over two years but he looked like he had never been away as he carded an opening 68 on debut at The 2021 Open Championship.

Viktor Hovland

The Norwegian turned professional before being able to take his place at the 2019 staging and like everybody else missed out last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

But at World Number 14 and having recently claimed a maiden European Tour victory at the BMW International Open, Hovland was finally taking his bow at the game's oldest Major Championship.

He started his round with a birdie and while he bookended that with a dropped shot, three birdies and a single bogey in the middle left him at two under at Royal St George's Golf Club.

"This is my first time playing links golf as a professional," he said.

"It's been a while since I've played it but it takes some time to get used to. That's why I came here on Saturday, just to get adjusted to the weather and how the ball was bouncing and just getting to know the course. I really enjoyed it.

"As a whole, I think two under par today is pretty solid. With the wind and some of these pin placements, it was not easy, and I felt like when I was out of position, I was able to come out OK.

"I hit some really nice iron shots and wedges that set up some pretty easy birdies.

"Tomorrow I feel like I need to hit it maybe a little bit better off the tee. Had some sporadic drives in there. Other than that, I feel pretty confident."

Collin Morikawa

The only debutant in the field with a higher ranking than Hovland is World Number Four Collin Morikawa, and the American recorded four birdies and a single dropped shot to sit at three under.

"Overall, I thought I found a rhythm," he said. "I was able to make some putts. That was huge - speed. It was important for me today. I was putting the ball really well and I've just got to keep that up the next three days. Huge momentum heading into the next few days.

"It's a learning process and the greens, they're slow, that's it. They're slow and you've got to figure out how to putt. I feel like my putting stroke has been good. Just had to figure out speed.

"Really happy playing out here. It's fun. It's a learning experience but I hope to figure it out shortly."

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