Viktor Hovland returns to the BMW PGA Championship for his second appearance at Wentworth Club, hoping to continue his strong run of form at the third Rolex Series event of the 2021 Race to Dubai, as he prepares for his Ryder Cup debut in two weeks’ time.
The Norwegian earned a top five finish in the PGA Tour’s season finale, the Tour Championship, last week and also won in his last appearance on European soil at the BMW International Open, so he his brimming with confidence heading into the week at Wentworth.
“I can’t believe it’s already been two years since I was last year. It’s a beautiful place and the weather so far is unbelievable. Look forward to having a great championship,” said Hovland.
“It’s been a lot of traveling the last two or three months. Definitely feeling it just moving around all the different time zones, but I’ve been loving it, every second of it and I feel like my game is trending in the right direction.
“I had a great week last week and put a different set of irons in the bag which I played earlier in the year, and I had a great week with the irons. I feel like I’m still hitting the irons pretty good. If I can just hit the ball in the fairway I’m going to give myself a lot of chances to make birdie.”
The 24-year-old has already secured his place at Whistling Straits, where he will make his debut under Captain Pádraig Harrington, and he was asked about how friendly he was with his European teammates ahead of his first taste of Ryder Cup action.
“I wouldn’t say I have a best friend on the team but definitely played some with Rory and Shane’s been over in the States a lot the last few months, and see Lee Westwood a lot,” he said. “Poults I played some practice rounds with. They are all really good guys, and I think we’re going to have a blast in a couple weeks’ time.”
There are numerous players in the field who still retain hopes of joining him on the European team which hopes to retain the trophy on American soil. Former World Number One Justin Rose is one of those players hoping to force his way onto the team – the Englishman needs a win to qualify automatically though he remains a favourite to earn a Captain’s pick should he fail to do so.
“It’s an event that I’ve always loved coming back to play because of the support that you get, sort of for me this feels like my sort of local boyhood home tournament, one that I dreamt about playing as a young boy and obviously one day having an opportunity to win,” said Rose. “Haven’t managed the last part yet but I’ve been close a few times. It’s really nice to be back at Wentworth with what feels like full crowds and the sun shining.
“So Wyndham, came back sort of immediately got into practice mode. Just wanted to try to keep up the momentum I felt like I gained there on my game. I had to head back to the States for the Payne Stewart Award that I was very kindly given, which was great but also put a bit of dent in the salute preparation for this. Turned into a five-day trip and what-have-you. I’ve had all attention on this. And working on my game really.”
Shane Lowry is the man with a target on his back this week as he occupies the final automatic spot for Harrington’s side. Back to an old stomping ground in Wentworth where he makes no secret of loving, Lowry will hope to deliver his A-game and book his seat on the plane to Whistling Straits.
“I love coming back here,” he said. “Since I came here first in 2010 I’ve always really enjoyed it. It’s not just the golf course. It’s the whole area itself. I just love being here. I think it’s a great part of the world.
“I’ve had some decent success around here and I’ve shot some good scores and played some good rounds. I’ve not quite won around here but I’ve not been far away a couple of times and hopefully I can give it a bit of a run this week.
“Obviously I’m here and probably a few people are gunning for me this week but I’m in a great position. I’ve worked very hard this year to get there. I’ve definitely spent the last five, six years trying to make a Ryder Cup team. So I feel like I’ve got a great opportunity this week and looking forward to going out and trying to do it.“
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