Viktor Hovland had a short yet eventful start to the season in Abu Dhabi as the tour's stopwatch and an unnecessary ruling got the better of him
In Abu Dhabi there were three instances of “bad times” in the first instalment of the new era of the European Tour’s pace-of-play policy. One of them was the rising superstar Viktor Hovland who took 59 seconds over a putt.
The good news is that we get to hear about these types of things, rather than sticking our fingers in the air, and are hearing about how things really are rather than just flatly writing off this or that player as slow.
The bad news, though not many will say they care about this side of things, is that it affects the players.
“We were the first group off and on my 4th hole, I had to readjust my line, and I’m normally not a slow player but I had to readjust my line, and we were already on the clock, and I spent a little bit more time than I should have,” explained the 22-year-old.
“That kind of flustered me a little bit. And the rest of the round, I was only focusing on trying to play fast, instead of you know, trying to perform, which you’re ultimately there for. I’ve never felt stressed in that way before.
“I was given a bad time so I don’t want to have another bad time before I have a penalty shot. I always want to err on the other side so your mind is going through, when are they starting the time, does this count, or do they look from the other side but you’re just trying to hit the ball.
“I made the putt and then we walked to the next tee and then he came up and said that was 57 seconds or whatever it was. So he let me know right away, which was good, I guess, because I don’t want to hear that after.”
Hovland actually picked up a penalty shot on his first hole of the year which will have also unsettled him but this was a more straightforward ruling.
“I hit it right of the green on 10 for my second shot and my ball rested up against the sign. I wasn’t aware that you’re not supposed to mark it. I didn’t want the ball to move, so I marked it, picked it up and placed it to the side, which you’re not supposed to do.”
In the end Hovland missed the cut by, you’ve guessed it, one shot.