Ryder Cup 2021: why Viktor Hovland is Europe’s “Smiling Assassin”

Viktor Hovland addresses the media ahead of the 43rd Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits. Photo: Mike Ehrmann / Getty Images.

But Norway and the Ryder Cup never seemed a likely marriage until a young man named Viktor Hovland dramatically announced his arrival on the world stage.

The 24-year-old already has two PGA Tour and one European Tour titles under his belt, briefly made his way into the top 10 in the world and currently sits in 14th place.

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There’s a bit of a “Smiling Assassin” about him and it’s no coincidence that all the other players on the Whistling Straits European squad wouldn’t hesitate to have Hovland by their side when the gunshot rings. Friday.

“He’s one of the best players in the world,” said Rory McIlroy as he delivered his verdict on the man who marked his country’s history in Wisconsin, just like, of course, Bernd Wiesberger in becoming the first Austrian to participate in the biennial competition.

“He has already been a wonderful teammate and the energy and enthusiasm he brings to our team,” added McIlroy of the Norwegian representative.

Hovland, who was born in Oslo, played football as a child but didn’t really dream of following in the footsteps of Solskjaer, who made a name for himself scoring goals for Manchester United before returning to Old Trafford for become the current manager.

“I was a decent defender,” Hovland said. “I had fun doing it, but I wasn’t too serious about it. It was just to hang out with my classmates.

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He also practiced taekwondo in downhill skiing as opposed to the cross country version where ski jumping was his favorite winter sport, but there was really only one thing he wanted to pursue with passion.

“I was determined to play golf from the age of 12,” he said. “It can be quite depressing in winter and when winter came I said to my dad, I want to hit balls indoors. I don’t just want to play in the summer and not play for four months.

“I had a few other juniors my age and we were able to continue having fun. At least you could see about 70 yards of bullet flight.

“They had a short play area, but it was like chipping on a hard surface and it rolled away and it was silly, but we were creative.”

Pettersen, a Norwegian golf pioneer, has played nine Solheim Cups, opening the curtain on her playing career in spectacular fashion as she landed the winning putt at Gleneagles in 2019.

“I got to know Suzann a little bit,” said Hovland, who lives in Oklahoma, where he attended college. “Since I started participating in Team Norway camps a few years ago.

“They would have done it several times in Orlando, where she had previously lived, and she would join a few. Since then, we have kept in touch a little.

“I don’t remember exactly where I was when she pulled the winning putt at Gleneagles. I think I was playing a tournament. But, obviously, I saw the highlights and his putt a few times. It’s shown a lot in Norway.

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