U.S. Amateur Champion Makes Birdie From Side Of Cliff

Oklahoma State rising junior Viktor Hovland will be heading back to Stillwater in a few weeks with a pretty impressive piece of hardware in tow. The 20-year-old took down UCLA’s Devon Bling in the 36-hole final of the U.S. Amateur on Sunday 6 & 5 to become the first Norwegian to win the Havemeyer Trophy.  

En route to his championship-clinching victory at Pebble Beach Golf Links, Hovland made an early statement on Sunday after blowing his drive down a cliffside off of the 292-yard par-4 4th hole. All square to that point, Hovland traversed down the iceplant-laden cliff to locate his ball. Somehow sitting up, Hovland elected to play the shot.

“The slope was pretty steep, and I kind of slid on the way down there,” Hovland said, according to USGA.org. “I didn’t want to fall when I hit the shot, so I was just trying to make contact. I had a perfect lie, so the contact wasn’t really the big issue. It was just getting the right line and obviously the right distance. It was a hit-and-hope moment, and it ended up pretty sweet.”

The birdie won the hole and springboarded the Oklahoma State product to a commanding 4-up lead heading into the second 18 holes. 

“I always thought I had a pretty good vocabulary, but I’m lost for words,” Hovland said. “It’s really special. I’ve only won once before (at the ValsparCollegiate in 2018), and to win the U.S. Amateur as my second win is really cool. I just hope it’s the start of something great.”

Hovland tied for the record of fewest holes played to win a U.S. Amateur (104), which was set by current PGA Tour pro Danny Lee in 2008. Bryson DeChambeau needed 105 holes to win his title in 2015. 

Both Hovland and Bling received invitations to next year’s U.S. Open at Pebble Beach and both are expected to be invited to play in the 2019 Masters at Augusta National. 

“It wasn’t the day I was hoping for, but I played really well all week,” Bling said, an 18-year-old rising sophomore. “It’s just the beginning, it’s not the end. Now I get to look forward to the U.S. Open and the Masters, so that’s definitely a lot of positives coming out of this week.”