Out of Bounds: Hovland and Wolff have the world at their feet
Young prodigies have signed lucrative deals after their breakthrough on the PGA Tour
Matthew Wolff reacts after an 18th hole eagle gave him a maiden PGA Tour victory in the 3M Open. Photograph: Craig Lassig/EPA
The whispers have become roars, for the word on the street was that Matthew Wolff - with his baseball-inspired, quirky swing - and Viktor Hovland were both the real deal. And in just a matter of weeks, the two former college teammates have proven to be walking ATMs in their moves into the professional game.
The pair - Wolff is 20, Hovland a year older at 21 - are like breaths of fresh air, providing proof if it were needed that those at the top end of the amateur game can move seamlessly into the professional ranks and make immediate impacts.
Hovland’s happy-go-lucky approach is one that will surely win him many fans, while Wolff - a winner in just his third start on the PGA Tour - has that X-Factor that singles him out from the crowd.
There are so many moving parts in Wolff’s swing that makes it truly unique but it works beautifully and the power that he is able to generate - and accuracy too - is surely going to stand him in good stead as he moves forward in his career.
Wolff’s win in the 3M tournament, the first player since Billy Hurley III in 2016 to do so when playing on a sponsor’s invitation, had the dramatic impact of moving him from 1,659th in the world rankings to 135th.
Unsurprisingly, the major golf manufacturers have been eyeing up the American and the Norwegian for some time.
Wolff has signed up with TaylorMade - joining a group that numbers Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods, Jon Rahm and Dustin Johnson among its tour staff - and has committed to using the company’s woods, irons, wedges, and putter with the plan to move on to also using its golf ball. In other words, he has signed a complete package for his equipment.
Hovland has adopted a different approach in his multi-year deal with Ping, which commits him to playing a minimum of 11 clubs, including putter and driver, but with the latitude to use three others of his own choosing. Interestingly, Hovland was influenced not by money but by the fact that he could continue to stay using the Titleist ball that he has always used.
As of now, neither Wolff nor Hovland are in the field for next week’s 148th British Open at Royal Portrush. Both have one last throw of the dice to make into the Causeway Coast through the exemption that comes with this week’s PGA Tour stop at the John Deere Classic.
You only have to look at the betting to see how the two have impacted straight away in their professional lives: Hovland is 16-1 favourite, Wolff is the 18-1 third favourite.