Different Strokes: Hovland’s hot form puts him on Harrington’s Ryder Cup radar

Faldo boost for elite juniors; Black Knights brogues for auction; In the Bag; On this day

Viktor Hovland of Norway drives from the sixth tee during the third round of the Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands  in Cromwell, Connecticut. Photograph: Rob Carr/Getty Images

Viktor Hovland of Norway drives from the sixth tee during the third round of the Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Connecticut. Photograph: Rob Carr/Getty Images

 

There may be a pause in the European team’s qualifying process for the Ryder Cup, but there is no doubt that Viktor Hovland’s upward trending in his fledgling career is being noted by captain Pádraig Harrington.

Suzann Pettersen certainly pioneered the way for the Nordic country on global golf courses, winning two Majors and inspiring Europe to four Solheim Cups, but Hovland is proving to be something for a groundbreaker for male golfers.

Already a winner on the PGA Tour this season, when capturing the Puerto Rico Open, the 22-year-old from Oslo provided another milestone for himself when he became the first Norwegian man to break into the top-50 on the world rankings following his tied-11th finish in the Travelers and he has moved on to his fourth event in four weeks for the upcoming Rocket Mortgages championship in Detroit, starting on Thursday.

Hovland was ranked 340th in the world when he made his professional debut in the Travelers a year ago; now, he is up to 45th. The qualifying process for the European team for the Ryder Cup – be it later this year or delayed until 2021 – may currently be on hold, but there is no doubt Hovland’s ongoing improvement has him on Harrington’s radar even if he is only 89th on the European points list and 21st on the world points list in the automatic qualifying.

Glasson Golf Club will host the Faldo Series on July 27th. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill
Glasson Golf Club will host the Faldo Series on July 27th. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Faldo ensures it's Glasson half-full for elite juniors

Some good news at last for those elite junior golfers who have seen their seasons decimated and been starved of competition: Glasson Golf Club, on the shores of the river Shannon, has been confirmed as the host venue next month for the Irish qualifier of the Faldo Series, that innovative competition organised by Nick Faldo and which in the past has included Rory McIlroy among its champions.

The Ireland qualifier – for boys and girls, with categories at under-16, under-18 and under-21 age groups – will be staged at the Christy O’Connor Junior-designed course outside Athlone on July 27th with the places in the international final in Abu Dhabi in November up for grabs.

In confirming the competition’s staging at Glasson, Faldo welcomed the return of competitive play. “Given the circumstances we’ve experienced this year, [we] are proud to be able to host events again and with our most competitive fields. It is very promising for the future of the game.”

Entries for the Ireland championship close on July 6th and entry applications are available on www.faldoseries.com

Gary Player is auctioning off a pair of his famous black and white crocodile golf shoes. Photograph: Harry How/Getty Images
Gary Player is auctioning off a pair of his famous black and white crocodile golf shoes. Photograph: Harry How/Getty Images

In Numbers:2,999

That’s the starting bid – in US dollars – for a pair of black and white crocodile golf shoes owned (and signed) by the Black Knight himself, Gary Player. The Grand Slam champion has been forced to cancel his global invitational series of events due to the coronavirus pandemic and, instead, will raise funds for disadvantaged children through an online auction with a wide range of golfing memorabilia up for auction. Since its establishment in 1983, the Player Foundation has raised over $65 million for charitable causes. Bids can be made online at auction.garyplayer.com

Phil Mickelson, who turned 50 recently, led the Travelers Championship at the halfway point. Photograph: Elsa/Getty Images
Phil Mickelson, who turned 50 recently, led the Travelers Championship at the halfway point. Photograph: Elsa/Getty Images

Word of Mouth

“I don’t think this is a one-off. I think it’s going to be the start of something really special, at least that’s what I’m sensing.” – Phil Mickelson, recently turned 50, on his improved form which saw him claim the halfway lead in the Travelers only to fall away over the weekend. Mickelson is taking a week’s break before returning for the back-to-back tournaments in Muirfield Village.

Dustin Johnson plays a shot from a bunker on the 16th hole during the final round of the Travelers Championship. Photograph: Rob Carr/Getty Images
Dustin Johnson plays a shot from a bunker on the 16th hole during the final round of the Travelers Championship. Photograph: Rob Carr/Getty Images

In the Bag: Dustin Johnson (The Travelers Championship)

Driver: TaylorMade SIM (10.5 degrees)
3-wood: TaylorMade SIM Max (15 degrees)
Hybrids: TaylorMade SIM Max Rescue (19 and 22 degrees)
Irons: TaylorMade P730 (5-PW)
Sand Wedge: TaylorMade Grind Hi-Toe (52 degrees)
Lob Wedge: TaylorMade Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees)
Putter: TaylorMade Truss TB1
Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

Thomas Pieters has moved up the world rankings despite not playing at the Travelers Championship . Photograph: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images
Thomas Pieters has moved up the world rankings despite not playing at the Travelers Championship . Photograph: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

Twitter Twaddle

Only dropped a couple of spots in the @OWGRltd this week. The 44k charity ride on the @wattbike yesterday must not have had world ranking points! – Lee Westwood, one of those who opted not to travel stateside for the PGA Tour’s resumption, on falling from 32nd to 33rd in the updated official world rankings.

I gained 2 spots. At this rate if I don’t play for 35 weeks, I’ll be number one – Thomas Pieters, another of those in the same boat as Westwood in sitting out weeks, showing the unpredictability of the rankings as he rose from 74th to 71st. It would seem maths is not a strong point, though.

Meanwhile, I’m currently in the process of re-recording Tom Petty’s ‘Free Fallin’ – Eddie Pepperell, who was world ranked 64th following his last tour outing in the Qatar Masters back in March. He has since fallen to 79th.

Inbee Park celebrates her win in the 2013 US Open at Sebonack Golf Club in Southampton, New York. Photograph: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
Inbee Park celebrates her win in the 2013 US Open at Sebonack Golf Club in Southampton, New York. Photograph: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

On this day: June 30th, 2013

Inbee Park’s name dominated the golfing world in 2013, where on many a week she proved invincible. That year’s US Women’s Open at Sebonack Golf Club in Southampton on Long Island saw the South Korean arrive in the form of her life: she’d won the LPGA Championship and the Walmart Arkansas Championship in the previous two weeks and her arrival in New York would see Park maintain that dominance as she finished four strokes clear of runner-up IK Kim. It was also her third consecutive Major win of the season, a feat that hadn’t been achieved since 1950 when Babe Zaharias managed it.

Park’s emphatic march to victory took few by surprise, given her dominance that season. “I think I have a heartbeat, I don’t know if Inbee has one,” said Australian player Karrie Webb.

“I hope this is not a dream,” said Park of her second US Open career win, where she closed with a final round 74 for an eight-under-par winning total of 280, with Kim four strokes back and third placed So Yeon Ryu a further three shots adrift in a South Korean cleansheet of the top-three places.

Know the Rules

Q
Two players finish level in a strokeplay competition and are asked to go into a sudden-death playoff to decide the winner. In finishing out on the first green of the playoff, Player A mistakenly advises his opponent Player B that he has taken four shots playing the hole and Player B picks up his ball as he has a putt for a five. At this point, Player A corrects his score and advises his opponent that he has actually taken five strokes. What happens next?

A
Rule 1.3c/2 – Applying Disqualification Penalties, Concessions and Wrong Number of Strokes in a Strokeplay Playoff – covers such a situation. If Player A inadvertently gives the wrong number of strokes to Player B and that results in Player B lifting his ball in believing he has lost the playoff, Player B is allowed to replace the ball without penalty and complete the hole. There is no penalty to Player A.

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