It’s all go on the Ryder Cup front as the qualification period for the European team began at the BMW PGA Championship. One thing we all like to do for months in advance is think about who the rookies might be, so with a year to go until the 2020 matches let’s focus on the current flavour of the week, Viktor Hovland.
The 22-year-old turned professional part way through the 2019 PGA Tour season and has been seriously impressive since. So will we be seeing him representing Europe at Whistling Straits?
‘Viktor Hovland has to be No. 1 on Harrington’s radar’
He’s just equalled the record for the most consecutive rounds in the 60s on the PGA Tour after less than a full season as a professional – so of course he has enough to make the team, writes Joe Hughes.
His European Tour debut at Wentworth was a success and judging by his comments and desire to return to play on European shores he’s obviously serious about making the team.
I don’t expect him to change his schedule too much and imagine he will play most of his golf Stateside which points towards him qualifying through either the World Points List or a captain’s pick and I’m hopeful he will perform well enough that this won’t be an issue.
He is the best European player to join the professional ranks Jon Rahm. Surely he has to be the No. 1 rookie that Padraig Harrington is looking at for the Ryder Cup.
Harrington stated that he wanted to play with Hovland in an event and got his wish for the opening rounds at Wentworth, so he’s already in the skipper’s mind. Can anyone really envisage a situation in which there are already too many rookies qualified for him not to receive a wildcard pick at the very least?
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‘There’s an embarrassment of riches on both teams’
At this point of the year we always like to get carried away with who’s going to walk onto the Ryder Cup team and then we end up with approximately 25 names, writes Mark Townsend.
As things stand Hovland is 89th in the world which means there are 26 Europeans ahead of him. I’ve no doubt he’ll end up above at least half of them by the time Whistling Straits comes around but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re in with four players coming from the European Points List, five from the World Points List and three picks from Harrington.
Interestingly he was paired with the Irishman at Wentworth, which will have been no coincidence and, having walked a few holes with them, it’s very, very easy to be impressed by the Norwegian – he shot back-to-back 69s with Harrington.
But the problem is that both Europe and the USA have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to picking a 12-man team. And with social media the way it is we get to hear and see an awful lot of the new brand of ‘superstars’ like Matthew Wolff, Collin Morikawa and Joaquin Niemann. Not so long ago we were doing the same with Cameron Champ.
There’s only so much to go around and the likes of Sergio Garcia, Paul Casey and Danny Willett, who have all won in recent weeks, are either not going away or coming back better than ever.
I genuinely hope Hovland does make the team, I think he’s an incredible talent and there doesn’t seem to be much to be concerned about when it comes to his mano-a-mano outlook but he’s surrounded by greatness.
If he was to be picked he will have just turned 23 – Tommy Fleetwood was 27 when he made his debut last year – and he will be playing in his first PGA and Open Championships in 2020.
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