Viktor Hovland (right) with caddie Alan Bratton (AGC photo)
If there were any doubts about where Viktor Hovland belongs next year, the 21-year-old cleared them up this week at Pebble Beach. Now that the U.S. Open is over, Hovland will join a handful of collegians transitioning to professional life this summer. His last act as an amateur was a powerful one, though.
Hovland, who had to remain amateur to accept his U.S. Open exemption as the reigning U.S. Amateur champion, had a final-round 4-under 67 on the course on which he won that U.S. Am title back in August. His 4-under total left him bouncing around the top 10 as the final groups finished the day, and as the low amateur by a long shot.
Hovland, of Norway, also won low-amateur honors at the Masters in April. On Sunday, he became the first amateur to pull off that back-to-back low amateur feat since Matt Kuchar in 1998. He did something else perhaps more impressive: His 4-under 280 total broke Jack Nicklaus’ U.S. Open record for low score as an amateur in this event (282), which dated to 1960 at Cherry Hills in Denver, Colo.
“I didn’t know that, that’s pretty cool,” Hovland said with a big grin Saturday afternoon in his post-round interview.
Hovland’s final-round 67 was preceded by rounds of 69-73-71.
“I hit a lot of greens and hit a lot of fairways this week,” Hovland said. “Got off to a great start on the first round but wasn't quite able to capitalize on it. I had another great start today, and it was nice to finish with a birdie and shoot 4-under at a course that I really like.
Hovland had Oklahoma State caddie Alan Bratton on the bag this week. Bratton also caddied for Hovland at the U.S. Amateur.
“I've had the three best years of my like at Oklahoma State and I've learned so much not only as a player but as a person, got to meet so many cool people and just kind of gotten to learn about the culture around it,” Hovland said.
We’ll next see Hovland as a professional playing in the Travelers Championship later this month, then the John Deere Classic.
As for the three other amateurs who made the weekend at Pebble Beach, Brandon Wu had the next-best showing with a 1-over total that left him tied for 35th. Wu, who was part of Stanford’s NCAA title team last month, skipped his Stanford graduation on Sunday to play the final round of the U.S. Open.
He will remain amateur this summer in hopes for a Walker Cup bid in September.
“I haven't been to school for a couple weeks now, but it's been surreal, for sure,” Wu said. “Starting with that national championship, I could not have thought of a better way to end my Stanford career. That's something you only dream of.
“Really happy we got to go out like that. And then five days later I qualified to play the Open at Pebble Beach, which is an hour and a half from Stanford. So it's been an awesome few weeks and something I'll remember for a while.”
Chandler Eaton, a rising senior at Duke was T-58 at 5 over and Michael Thorbjornsen, the 17-year-old who earned his way into the field as the reigning U.S. Junior champion, was 79th at 20 over.
ABOUT THE U.S. Open
The U.S. Open is the biggest of the 14 national
championships conducted by the USGA.
to amateurs and professionals.
The USGA intends to make the U.S. Open
most rigorous, yet fair, examination of golf
skills, testing all forms of shot-making. The
USGA prepares the course after careful
consideration of 14 different factors.
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