AUGUSTA, Ga. — In the leadup to the 2024 Masters earlier this week, Viktor Hovland alluded several times to the fact that his confidence is not exactly sky high at the moment. A wild development considering the tear he was on late last summer, when he won the Memorial Tournament in June and then capped off the season with wins at the BMW and Tour Championships to capture the FedEx Cup crown.

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Hovland confirm Tuesday he was working with Golf Digest Top 50 Teacher Dana Dahlquist, his fourth coach in less than a year. That’s quite a bit of tinkering for a man who appeared to be on a war path last August, when many projected he’d reach the World No. 1 ranking sooner rather than later. 

“I’m still kind of looking for some opinions out there, but I feel like I’m on a good track right now and we’ll see where that takes us,” Hovland said on Tuesday. “I was playing great golf last year, but it’s not like I’m trying to change my golf swing. It’s just sometimes the game of golf you try to do the same every day, but then things aren’t the same every day when you go to the golf course.”

That’s ringing painfully true for Hovland on Friday at Augusta National, which is kicking him in the teeth after he opened with a one-under 71 on Thursday. Hovland bogeyed the par-4 first to drop back to even par, then he pulled his drive so far left on No. 2 that he had to take a drop. His third shot, a punch out, hit a tree square on, and you could tell by Hovland’s reaction that the poor guy is going through it right now:

Exasperated is the word that springs to mind here, which is likely because this ricochet was so unlucky that Hovland had to take another drop, leaving him 248 yards to the green with his fifth shot. Hovland punched back out to safety and then went just over the green with his sixth, ultimately two-putting for a triple-bogey 8 to drop to three over before his round even got going. 

A much-needed par followed at the third, but Hovland then double-bogeyed the fourth and made another bogey at No. 5. He has sunk all the way to six over, putting him firmly outside the cut line. A few months ago, he was a top pick to win the green jacket. Now, he will have to do some serious, serious grinding to even sniff the weekend. 


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