Viktor Hovland’s chipping woes have been well documented, and the question on Sunday at The Open is will it stand up under the pressure of going toe to toe with one of the best ever on the grandest of stages?
Well, the stats aren’t in his favour. The Norwegian is dead last on the PGA Tour for Strokes Gained: Around the Green which is unbelievable given he is ranked in the Top 10 in the world.
But there is a stat here that people may be ignoring. Hovland is the top of the pack when it comes to scrambling from the fringe. With the vast greens, and opportunities to putt from the fairway, this could certainly benefit Hovland on Sunday.
The pin placements also work in his favour. The hole locations for the final round are sneaky tough with lots of tucked positions just behind bunkers or tantalisingly close to false fronts and slopes. Players are going to be forced to play to the wider portions of the greens, but will also have to chip conservatively.
Hovland has been the master of greens in regulation this week, but also at putting the ball at the right side of the green to take the worst hazards out of play.
Realistically short siding yourself to lots of Sunday’s pins is going to make up and down impossible.
Playing around the hazards and taking your medicine will likely be the option for most of the field meaning Hovland probably won’t be losing ground.
The other thing that is playing to his advantage is the links turf. It requires a different skillset to what we see week in, week out on the PGA Tour. Generally you can always hit a running shot if you don’t fancy the high shot. There is also the added benefit that you can putt from most areas on the course.
Should Hovland be in a situation where he has to chip, though, you may find he gets on better than normal. Generally Hovland chips aggressively with loft. His bad shot is a strike that is caught slightly heavy when he is trying to get down into the lush grass on the PGA Tour.
It is extremely hard to fat a shot off firm links turf. This is because the ball sits on top of the turf rather than down into the grass. This means the shot to play is one where you clip the ball off the turf something which should be easier than the typical chip shots Hovland gets on tour.
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