Viktor Hovland completes low-amateur double with record score

Viktor Hovland completes low-amateur double with record score

Lee Spencer Columnist
image (Photos by Chris Keane/Copyright USGA)
Viktor Hovland lines up a putt on the third hole during the final round of the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. His 4-under 280 total was a record for an amateur in a U.S. Open, beating Jack Nicklaus' 1960 mark by two shots.

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- Viktor Hovland gave new meaning to the term “Cowboy Up” at Pebble Beach Golf Links on Sunday.

The 21-year-old Norwegian, who just finished his junior year at Oklahoma State University, birdied the 18th hole to duplicate his career-best finish of 67 and claim low amateur honors in the 119th U.S. Open.

Hovland shot 4 under in the final round—a total of 280 over four days—beating the 72-hole amateur record of 2-under 282 set by Jack Nicklaus at Cherry Hill in 1960. Hovland also became the first  low amateur in both the Masters and the U.S. Open since Matt Kuchar in 1998. 

“It's obviously cool to perform such a thing,” said Hovland after his first U.S. Open and his fifth PGA Tour event. “And I hope that I can feed off of this going into my professional career and do more things like this and be in contention of winning tournaments.”

Before the tournament began, Hovland played with fellow Cowboy and mentor Rickie Fowler on Monday. Fowler, who finished plus 2 for the tournament, predicted Hovland would have a solid week at Pebble Beach.

After all, Hovland became the first Norwegian to win the U.S. Amateur on the same course, a feat he accomplished last August.

“Viktor is going to be fine,” Fowler said. “I'm not worried about him. It’s an adjustment. Sometimes it takes longer for some guys than others. Some guys you see come out and play very well, and there's no real transition period. But I think him having played well here last year puts him in a good position.

“I'm excited for him to start his professional career soon. I think he's going to have a lot of success. I hope that would be sooner rather than later. But I'm looking forward to helping him if I can at all. He may not need it. He might come out and just get on a run and go.”

Fowler was right. This week, the student overshadowed the teacher—by six strokes. He shot 69 on Wednesday, then 73-71 before Sunday’s final round. His card featured six birdies and just two bogies, both on the back 9.

“That was fun,” Hovland said. “I hit a lot of greens and hit a lot of fairways this week. 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 described the last three years at Oklahoma State as the best of his life. His cheering section this week included his fellow players and coaches—including his caddie—OSU head coach Allan Bratton.

“Coach has now caddied for me at the U.S. Amateur last year, the Masters, and now this week. And 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. “It's been really cool, though, just to have him and Coach Darr and just all the guys on the team with me, supporting me. So that was a cool walk.”

And likely his last as an amateur. When asked if he was looking forward to returning in February for the Pro-Am as a professional, Hovland replied, “We'll see. I don't know quite what my schedule is going to be looking like. But I can't wait to come back here already.”


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