PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Viktor Hovland sure has a thing for the Monterey Peninsula.
You wouldn’t necessarily know it judging by his relatively modest three-under-par 69 Thursday at Spyglass Hill—using preferred lies in the closely mown areas—in the opening round of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. Let PGA Tour players have ball in hand and scoring is sure to impress, which Thomas Detry did best with his 63 at Spyglass, one better than Patrick Cantlay.
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Hovland, the reigning FedEx Cup champion and No. 4 player in the world, now gets three rounds—weather permitting—at Pebble Beach Golf Links. The native of Oslo, Norway, likes Pebble Beach. He won the 2018 U.S. Amateur here and was low amateur in the 2019 U.S. Open at Pebble, finishing 12th with a record four-under 280 total. That effort broke Jack Nicklaus’ mark for low score by an amateur in the U.S. Open that Nicklaus set in 1960 with a 282 total at Cherry Hills in Denver.
Making up six shots on the leader with 54 holes remaining isn’t a hard ask. And we know Hovland can turn on his scoring gear. Witness his final-round 61 last August to break the course record at Olympia Fields in blowing past world No. 1 Scottie Scheffler to win the BMW Championship.
So there’s that.
And then there’s this—the course-record 10-under-par 62 he shot on Sunday on the Dunes Course at Monterey Peninsula Country Club.
“Yeah, that was fun,” Hovland, 26, said with a slight grin, downplaying the outing.
It was a fun front nine. It was a phenomenal back nine. Hovland birdied the last eight holes for an inward 29. You read that right. Eight in a row. His previous best birdie streak in official competition or casual play was five, he said.
The Dunes Course, originally designed by Seth Raynor but renovated by Rees Jones in 1997, is a mere 7,063 yards from the back tees, but has a course rating of 74.6 and slope of 140. It was one of the courses used in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am from 1947-64. Its sister course, the Shore Course, had been used in the three-course rotation in recent years of the Pebble Beach Pro-Am before the event was elevated to a signature event this year with a $20 million purse, while the pro-am competition was shaved to 36 holes on Pebble Beach and Spyglass.
Hovland’s outing, unofficial though it may be, underscores how dangerous he continues to be after a season in which he not only won the FedEx Cup but also finished in the top 20 in all four majors and didn’t miss a cut.
“It’s a nice little record,” Hovland said, smiling a little more. “A nice warmup [for the tournament], too. It was cool.”
Don’t be surprised if he heats up as tournament week progresses.
Private Monterey Peninsula Country Club: Shore Pebble Beach, CA 4.7 268 Panelists
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Mike Strantz was battling cancer while transforming the bland, low-budget Shore Course into a scenic and strategic marvel that rivals next-door neighbor Cypress Point. Strantz reversed direction of the fifth through 15th holes to provide a Pacific Ocean backdrop to most of them. He weaved fairways among trees so players could “dance among the cypress,” and added native grasses for a coastal prairie look. The stunning landscape would be Strantz’s last work of art. He died six months after completing the redesign. Former PGA Tour player Forrest Fezler, who was Strantz’s associate on the project, later served as a consulting architect in order to retain the Strantz vision, until he died in 2018. View Course
This article was originally published on golfdigest.com