PGA: Jon Rahm, Viktor Hovland chasing Scottie Scheffler’s greatness

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Viktor Hovland knows the hours are ticking on generous pin placement and soft greens with 100-degree weather expected by the second round of the U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2.

He also is one of the top players in the field who admits they’re looking up at World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler, a model of consistency with five tournament wins already this season.

“He is the gold standard right now,” Bryson DeChambeau said Tuesday. “And we’re all looking up to him going, All right, how do we get to that level?”

Hovland said he left the PGA Championship encouraged that he had a chance to win a major championship without his best game. Rather than studying whether he missed an opportunity, Hovland was energized by contending and a contrasting positive feeling compared to not wanting to show up at the Masters in April because of the state of his game.

“Optimally, you don’t want to think about technique when you’re out here playing the game of golf,” Hovland said. “You want to be on a trajectory that makes you want to improve all the time and also play the best you can right now.”

Hovland said he will stick with an approach of staying aggressive off the tee and being more conservative with his approach because of the challenged domed greens and downright wicked pin placements expected this week.

“This is a really cool design. Off the tee there are some narrow fairways, generous enough,” Hovland said. “I think visually it looks really cool off the tee. I’m just a really big fan of greens that are kind of raised up and rolls off the sides. In some spots, some of the pin locations look a little bit suspect, so we’ll see how that works out. There’s a value in hitting greens this week.”

Jon Rahm said Tuesday morning Pinehurst was a bucket list golf course.

“You hear about the greens,” Rahm said one week after withdrawing from the Houston Open with a football injury. “But it’s an enjoyable walk.”

Rahm won the 2021 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines and returns to the tournament for the first time since leaving the PGA Tour for LIV Golf. He’s among the competitors chasing World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler.

“It’s quite incredible to see what he’s been able to accomplish. When you start getting compared to Tiger (Woods) and things that Tiger has done, that’s when you know it’s quite special,” Rahm said. “As a competitor, it’s an added motivation to see somebody doing so well. That’s what we all strive for. As a golf fan, it’s absolutely incredible to watch.”

Hovland said even the best from those chasing Scheffler isn’t always enough because of his pattern of consistency.

“We can play well and compete against him when we’re playing well,” Hovland said. “But he’s bringing that level of consistency every single week. His average week is just really, really good. Definitely makes me work harder and motivates me to get better.

“If he had holes in his game, he wouldn’t perform as he would. He hits it very straight. Very reliable. It’s not about how good the good shots are but he’s playing a game where his bad shots are still good. He’s still in play. There is no big miss. When you couple that with a really special short game, it’s easier to play the game of golf.”

–Field Level Media

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