NASSAU, Bahamas. In windy weather, golf balls go astray. Look at Victor Hovland’s scorecard – 2-70 on Friday at the Albany Club, including an eagle and four birds – and he did it easily. But was it easy for him?
“It wasn’t like that, of course not,” he said.
Hovland, the defending champion, says he doesn’t have his “great game” as tournament host Tiger Woods put it, but despite struggling with his backswing and struggling with his stick, he played well enough to win – leads the Hero World Challenge.
“It’s a little weird, like I knew it was windy and I feel like I missed so many hits. And I still don’t feel like I’m hitting very well, like I don’t feel comfortable over the ball, but the ball is going straight and I’m looking at myself,” he said. “It’s just not great and I’m missing a lot of shots and somehow we ended up 2 short today, so yeah, I’m happy with that.”
Hovland hit three birdies in a row starting in 13th, but the round culminated in his third throw from 84 yards in the right rough for the Eagle on par-5 six.
“Somehow strange lay down on the slope. The wind was blowing from the right, so it was not very convenient to shoot,” he said. “Basically I aimed 30 feet to the right of the pin and I hit it at a 50 degree angle just trying to hit it as low as possible to try and get into the wind. And I saw him spin a little at the end and I yelled “Come on” and yeah, just slam dunk right into him. It was the first time I did it.”
But this isn’t the first time the former Oklahoma State cowboy has played in windy conditions.
“Yeah, it blows like that all the time in Oklahoma,” said Hovland, who recalled attending the Big 12 conference at Prairie Dunes in Kansas. “In my freshman year, I could hardly get the ball off the ground, so I liked it. I shot a 1 under the front nine and probably led three or four shots in nine holes. It was the best I’ve ever played in such a strong wind, so it was fun.”
But playing in the wind, he argued, is the hardest part of playing in the wind.
“You train on three-footers,” said Hovland, who first threw at the Albany Club in six rounds in the 70s. “It’s windy and grainy here and the green is fast, so it’s not like you can just hit the shots, you have to actually kind of die from the shots, and then the wind can hit him a little harder.”
So far so good for Hovland, who is one stroke ahead of Scotty Scheffler, Xander Schauffele, Cameron Young and Collin Morikawa, who all represented Team USA at the Presidents’ Cup in September.
Scheffler claims first place
Scotty Scheffler makes his second court shot from the Hero World Challenge tee at Albany Golf Course on December 2, 2022 in Nassau, Bahamas. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Scotty Sheffler sounded a bit like fictional race car driver Ricky Bobby: “If you’re not first, you’re last,” when asked if he liked the chance to regain world number one this week if he won the Hero World Challenge.
“I don’t like being number 2,” he said. “I don’t like finishing second.”
Over two rounds, Scheffler, the amiable Texan who held the top spot for 30 straight weeks before being eliminated by Rory McIlory on Oct. 23, is in second after scoring a 4-under-68 at the Albany Club on Friday.
Scheffler hit four birds for a five-hole stretch starting at par-5 on the 11th, and did so in conditions made difficult by wind gusts of up to 30 mph and wreaking havoc in scoring despite using his preferred lie.
“Especially on a golf course like this where it’s open, it’s very difficult,” Scheffler said. “You can’t really play the ball on the ground here off the tee just because it’s so wet so you had to get the ball up in the air and it was definitely tough today.”
Scheffler has already won four times this year, including the Masters, and was named the PGA Tour Player of the Year. He has a chance to pass McIlroy and reclaim the world number one thanks to Tiger Woods, the world number 1277, who withdrew from the tournament and was replaced by the number 29 Sepp Straka, who increased his fielding strength enough. to increase the world ranking points on the line this week.
“No. 1 is definitely a place I would love to go back to, but if we don’t play golf for a while, who knows what will happen to the world rankings,” Scheffler said. it’s not a perfect system, so we’ll see what happens there. It’s definitely nice to get back to, but I’m not going to think about it when I’m on the golf course.”