Viktor Hovland: Ryder Cup memories bigger than winning $18m FedEx Cup

Norwegian tees off at the DP World Tour Championship on Thursday at the end of a career-best season

Viktor Hovland takes part in the Pro-Am prior to the DP World Tour Championship at Jumeirah Golf Estates. Getty Images
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Viktor Hovland's career-best season was highlighted by two significant achievements, but if the Norwegian was given the option of only winning the $18 million FedEx Cup or the Ryder Cup with Team Europe – for which he got paid nothing – there is really no contest.

"Ryder Cup was awesome," Hovland, 26, said. "Obviously winning the Tour Championship [FedEx Cup] was more important for my career but the memories from Rome, I'm going to remember those moments for a lot longer and those memories are a lot stronger than the Tour Championship. Everything was just perfect for our perspective that week."

For Hovland, those memories started on his very first hole at Marco Simone, when he chipped in with one of the shots of the tournament to send hundreds of fans surrounding the green, and millions watching around the world, into raptures.

That set the tone for a superb Ryder Cup performance as Hovland won three-and-a-half points from a possible five to help Europe dominate the United States, two years after being on the end of a historic beatdown in Wisconsin.

Hovland's form in Rome was a surprise to precisely no one. He arrived as the form player in world golf following successive titles at the BMW Championship and Tour Championship which pocketed him that cool $18m to conclude a PGA Tour season that included another victory at the prestigious Memorial.

At the majors, Hovland knocked on the door once again with a tied-second at the PGA Championship and tied-seventh at The Masters. He finished in the top 20 at the other two, The Open and the US Open. The wait for a first major may go on, but it is surely only a matter of time.

For now, though, the focus is on ending the DP World Tour season with another title at the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai. Hovland enters the season-concluding tournament at Jumeirah Golf Estates following a lengthy break, but the world No 4 does not believe his lack of competition will be a hindrance.

"Yeah, six weeks, it feels like a long time. You know, you need those breaks to recharge because it's hopefully a long career," Hovland said. "It's going to be maybe a little bit rusty, but I still have the mindset and I think just this year, with how much I've improved and the tools that I have, I feel like I can still shoot pretty nice scores not having my best stuff.

"If I hit a couple of bad shots, yeah, I might make a bogey or two, but I'm not going to let that ruin the round or the tournament.

"[In the past] I put so much pressure on myself to play perfect golf because I felt like I had to play perfect golf to win tournaments, but I don't believe that I have to do that anymore.

"It's almost like, yes, there are more expectations because I know what I'm capable of doing, but at the same time, if I don't play to that level, I'm not going to freak out, either. There's a sense of calmness."

Hovland has enjoyed success in the UAE having won the Dubai Desert Classic in 2022 and he hopes he can use that experience to propel himself to more success this week.

"I love golf here," he said. "The golf courses are really good. The weather is nice. Food is good. I just really enjoy coming here. But obviously, I would like to win on another course over here and I think this course suits me well so I'm looking forward to playing some good golf."

Updated: November 15, 2023, 8:01 AM