When the PGA Tour regular season ended a couple of weeks ago, former Oklahoma State star Viktor Hovland found himself on the wrong side of getting his card straight out of college, coming up an agonizing 67 FedEx Cup points short.
Naturally, there was a swell of support that he should be granted one anyway, since in five of his starts he didn’t earn any points because he was an amateur. Among the finishes that didn’t count: A T-12 at the U.S. Open and a T-32 at the Masters. Had he been retroactively awarded those points, he would have earned enough to qualify for the Playoffs and more importantly gotten a card for next season.
“I knew going in that most likely the way I had to make my PGA Tour card was through the Korn Ferry [Tour] Finals,” Hovland said from this week’s Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship in Ohio, where he continues his quest to earn a PGA Tour card. “So I’m looking forward to getting off to a good start here at Scarlet.”
The Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship is the first of three events in the Korn Ferry Tour Finals. Players in the top 25 of the Finals standings at the end of the series get a PGA Tour card for 2019-20.
It might not even take that long for Hovland.
On Thursday, the 21-year-old scorched Ohio State’s Scarlet Course with a 64 to share the first-round lead with Cameron Percy.
The day started rather routinely for Hovland, the 2018 U.S. Amateur champion, who made three birdies over his first 11 holes. Then he turned it on.
On the par-5 12th, Hovland hammered his iron shot over a creek short of the green and onto the putting surface to set up a lengthy eagle putt, which he made to move into a tie atop the leader board.
After a bogey at 14, he got rolling again, rattling off three straight birdies beginning on the 16th to close out the round of seven under.
There’s still a long way to go, but a win would guarantee Hovland a PGA Tour card for next season.
In other words, he doesn’t seem to be too bummed about about having to play in the Korn Ferry Finals this week instead of the PGA Tour’s playoffs. It looks like he’ll get there soon enough anyway.