May 20, 2021
Kiawah Island, South Carolina, USA
The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island
THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon. Pleased to be joined by Viktor Hovland, who opened with a 69 today. He is 3-under par. Viktor, terrific day all day long, four birdies and just a single bogey. Talk about your form out there and how you fit with the wind and how you mastered it, at least for one day.
VIKTOR HOVLAND: I can't remember the last time I felt as good as I did today on the golf course. I really felt comfortable off the tee, and I hit a bunch of fairways, and I was able to hit a bunch of greens as well.
The last couple months, I've kind of been -- just kind of had one shot with my irons, been drawing it a lot. And whenever I had to kind of cut something up against the wind or to a hole location that's to the right, I couldn't really do that really well. So I've been working on that a lot, and today I hit a lot of really nice cut shots into the greens and was able to make a couple nice putts. So it was a really solid day.
Q. You made a really fun par on No. 4, including kind of a funky shot from the edge of the bunker. I was just wondering if you had any thoughts about that hole.
VIKTOR HOVLAND: Yeah, I didn't hit that tee shot from where they set it up today in the practice rounds. So, obviously, those bunkers kind of weren't in play when I played it. But I was aiming well left of it, and the wind kind of got a hold of my drive. I thought I was for sure in the bunker, and then we walk up there, and it's just right of it.
At first I thought I was going to have a good stance, but as I kind of maneuvered around, I didn't really have any good options. I was contemplating maybe standing in the bunker. I got the 3 wood out trying to hit maybe a high slice. Then I kind of aimed further and further left. Maybe I could stand on the grass and slice it. But then I kind of -- it just kind of dawned on me, well, what if I try to hook it. So I actually had a better stance if I just turned the other way, but I was standing on my toes on both my feet. I just hood a 5-iron. Yeah, I was just trying to get it over the hazard.
As soon as I made contact on it, I knew it was going to be over. Yeah, I was really happy with that second shot because that could have been bad.
Q. Viktor, long way to go, but at the last major with Hideki winning, he was treated like a national hero going back to Japan. What would the response be like in Norway if you were to win this?
VIKTOR HOVLAND: It's hard to say. Golf doesn't really have a very rich tradition back home. I don't really know the tradition either in Japan, but they seem to obviously really take care of Hideki. I have no idea.
We have a very rich Olympic tradition, and now with golf being an Olympic sport, I think it would be great for people back home to just get into the sport. I really have no idea. We'll have to get there first.
Q. How did they respond to your other wins?
VIKTOR HOVLAND: They were pretty pumped, the people that were watching, but I don't know how much like national broadcast it got. I haven't been much back home, so it's kind of hard for me to answer.
Q. And what have been the pros and cons of having your parents here in the states watching you the last several tournaments?
VIKTOR HOVLAND: Well, so my dad left from Charlotte a couple weeks ago. He was here for five weeks. My mom still hasn't come over to watch me play as a pro, due to the pandemic. It was great having my dad. We haven't spent a whole lot of time together ever since I started college. It was definitely a little annoying at times, but it was fun to do those road trips with him and kind of have him watch me play and just talk about things we haven't talked about before.
Q. Viktor, you talked about the Olympics and how Norway feels about the Olympics. There have been some players that either, A, have decided not to play the Olympics even if they qualify, or, B, have somewhat complained about the fact that it's going to be a tough hoe when they go over to Japan. What's your thoughts on being an Olympian, and how important would it be if you win a gold medal or even a medal at all in Norway?
VIKTOR HOVLAND: We had a couple of Norwegian players play in 2016, and they certainly loved the experience. Obviously, it's the Olympics, and if you have a chance to compete, I certainly would not decline. It's unfortunate the circumstances that we're dealing with. It looks like it's going to be pretty strict. There's not a whole lot of fun stuff to do, if you will, outside of the golf course.
So that's going to be a little downer, but just to be able to compete as an Olympian is a huge honor, and hopefully, I can represent Norway well.
Q. Just curious, Viktor, have you ever been on the front page of Oslo's biggest newspaper?
VIKTOR HOVLAND: I have no idea. You all would have to do some research on that.
Q. I don't speak Norwegian.
VIKTOR HOVLAND: You just have to look at the front page, I would assume.
Q. I was just curious, you talk about television, I didn't know if any newspapers from home when you've been here, has anyone told you?
VIKTOR HOVLAND: Could not tell you.
Q. Do you read the newspaper?
VIKTOR HOVLAND: I don't. I really don't.
Q. You and me both.
VIKTOR HOVLAND: Typical millennial.
Q. Viktor, you came in here with some good finishes before and then a round like this. How much confidence are you feeling in your game right now?
VIKTOR HOVLAND: I think it was really good the last couple of tournaments that I played that I was able to finish third without really feeling that all parts of my game were that great. I would have spurts and moments where I hit it really good, and then I would hit some bad shots and kind of give back the momentum that I had, whereas now I really feel like there's not really a hole in my game. It doesn't mean I'm going to play great, but I'm at least confident over every single shot that I'm hitting, which is a big deal.
I feel like, even though I played two good tournaments, I feel a lot better for this week.
Q. Viktor, you may have answered this before. I apologize. Why have you stayed in Oklahoma as opposed to landing in some of the other hotbeds?
VIKTOR HOVLAND: Obviously, it was pretty popular for people, when they turn pro, to move to maybe Jupiter, Arizona, Dallas, other places. I just knew that kind of my world was going to change, and I didn't want to deal with moving to a different place where I don't know anyone and all that stuff. So I just kind of wanted to keep things similar as I turned pro and made my way to the PGA TOUR.
Now fast forward a couple years, I'm still there. I think it's just the convenience of it. People are awesome. I'm playing a bunch with the guys on the golf team, and I just like to be involved. They just won the regionals a couple days ago at Carson creek. So, yeah, just pumped to be around them and see how they do.
Q. Viktor, talk about trajectory control. You were mentioning about your irons, working the ball. How did you go through that process? Was it part of you dealing with whatever and coming here would have been because knowing wind and everything? Can you speak to that about trajectory and what it means to be out here this week and what you were working on coming in here?
VIKTOR HOVLAND: Yeah, first of all, I was struggling with an overdraw. I couldn't really deliberately cut it every single time, and if I did, it was more of a spinnier weak cut, and it was essentially just a setup kind of tweak that I made that really made it easy for me to cut it. As well as being able to draw it if I needed to.
As I just said, I live in Oklahoma, and it blows like this every single day. If I could just move it left to right, right to left, moving the ball down is not an issue.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports