Viktor Hovland was among the first PGA Tour players to arrive in Hawaii this year, getting to Maui a week in advance of the 2022 opener, the Sentry Tournament of Champions.
But his clubs couldn’t quite keep up.
Having exhausted typical customer service options, Hovland took to Instagram Stories to express his frustration with the fact that his clubs were still in the Seattle airport.
“Get your s— together, Delta!” Hovland wrote.
He wasn’t alone. Daniel Berger arrived Sunday, but his clubs got stuck en route.
“I was a little stressed out because I knew I needed to play some golf,” he said. “A lot of phone calls with American Airlines, that’s for sure.”
Compounding the issue was Berger’s recent playing history: His T7 at the Hero World Championship was his only competitive golf since the Tour Championship in September. He needed to hit some golf balls.
It’s a story of the times. Airlines were in limbo across the country as a Covid surge compounded typical seasonal challenges of weather and holiday travel. That meant thousands of canceled flights every day for short-staffed airlines. And as it turns out, not even Tour pros are immune to the hardships of lost luggage.
What to do? Hovland’s caddie Shay Knight showed up with some Pings of his own, albeit with different specs. Hovland put those into play early in the week while he waited for his own clubs to arrive.
“I played with my caddie’s clubs the first couple days, just kind of getting the rust off, and I feel like I’ve been getting better every single day,” he said.
Berger borrowed the sticks of K.H. Lee’s caddie Brett Waldman. He changed all the lofts and lies on his irons to match his own. And he headed to the range.
“I changed the lies and lofts on his clubs, was using his driver. I just needed to hit some balls. Especially after a long flight of coming across the world to get here, I just had to get the body moving, so whatever I had was going to work,” he said.
Hovland’s clubs arrived Tuesday — though not all in one piece. His driver had been decapitated somewhere along the way.
Berger’s clubs finally arrived late on Tuesday, too. But he admitted that he hadn’t changed Waldman’s lofts and lies back — nor had he returned the driver.
“I used it the first couple days because I was seeing some really high ball speeds that I hadn’t seen in the past,” he said. He debated using the newfound driver in competition but ended up going with his own gamer.
So how’d it go? Pretty well for Hovland, who is coming off wins in his two most recent starts and held the early lead on Thursday, too. He cooled off but still posted a round of four-under 69, good for T13.
“It’s definitely a little bit different in a tournament because then you’ve got to think about the misses and the consequences, where to aim, and that’s where the rust kind of shows up for sure,” he said.
Day 1 went even better for Berger.
“Didn’t really hit a bad shot the entire day,” he said. That’s how you shoot seven-under 63, just one shot off the lead.
So jot another one down in the “these-guys-are-good” files. Practice? Who needs it? They’ll beat you with their clubs, your clubs or a mid-week switch from one to the next.