The 2021 Ryder Cup was one to forget — or learn from, whichever you prefer — for Europe, and also for Viktor Hovland.
The 24-year-old Ryder Cup rookie finished the week at Whistling Straits 0–3–2 as the Americans won convincingly, 19–9. But Hovland, speaking to reporters at the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship on Wednesday, said that Ryder Cup week wasn’t all for naught. It showed him where he needs to improve.
“I think it was revealing for me, a few events I played, especially the Ryder Cup for example,” Hovland said. “Obviously we took a beating but I really felt like in a lot of the matches I played and with my teammates, we had an upper hand in almost every match that we played. In particular we had great starts I feel like.
“But you know, the Americans, at least just that week, I know it’s just one week, but it really, to me, it stood out that I have a lot to gain around the greens and on the greens, and wedges. If I can continue to strike it the way I need to or I do, and just slowly improve around the greens and work on my inefficiencies, I think that’s going to make a big difference.”
This might not be much of a surprise. Hovland was candid after his 2020 Puerto Rico Open victory when he said, “I just suck at chipping.”
The good news? Hovland’s rebounded in a big way since the Ryder Cup. He won back-to-back starts (one month apart) at the World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba in November and Hero World Challenge in December. While complete ShotLink stats aren’t available from those events, he was 5th in scrambling at Mayakoba (14 of 17) and averaged 26.25 putts on the week. At the Hero, Hovland made back-to-back eagles on 14 and 15 to grab the lead (he holed out from the bunker on 14) and hung on down the stretch.
Hovland last played two weeks ago, when he was T30 out of 38 at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He was last in Strokes Gained: Around the Green. He knows he has work to do in Abu Dhabi, but entering the week with wins in two of his last three starts isn’t bad, either.