Viktor Hovland WDs from WM Phoenix Open after frustrating week at Pebble Beach (UPDATE: Xander Schauffele out as well)
One of the PGA Tour's superstars will not be teeing it up during Super Bowl week after all.
Viktor Hovland was announced on Monday as a WD from the WM Phoenix Open. The World No. 4 was coming off a frustrating week at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, where he finished T-58 in the limited field signature event.
Hovland finished T-22 at the Sentry in his only other 2024 start. This year's WM Phoenix Open is not one of the PGA Tour's signature events, although it will once again boast a strong field, headlined by World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler.
Although no official reason was given for pulling out, Eurosport/Discovery's Espen Baker didn't read much into it, tweeting (translated):
"No big surprise that Viktor drops Phoenix. Has several times previously withdrawn the week after a disappointing tournament. But considering that he had three free weeks before Pebble, it is clearly enough to work with!"
Others speculated the decision might have something to do with a potential move to LIV Golf. After all, Tyrrell Hatton was a late scratch from Pebble last week before making his debut with LIV in Mayakoba as a member of Jon Rahm's new team. But that makes less sense with the LIV season already underway, and Hovland has repeatedly denied those rumors in recent months.
Speaking on Discovery's FORE podcast in December, Hovland expressed "doubt" about ever going to the new league. And although he criticized PGA Tour management, he said this:
“If I had gone to LIV, I don’t think I would have become a better golfer, and then it is, in a way, end of discussion. You need the competition with 150 players and a cut. If you don’t play well enough, you’re out. There is something about it that makes your game a little sharper.”
When asked again last week about the rumors ahead of Pebble Beach, Hovland told Norsk Golf they're "not true."
Hovland is the PGA Tour's reigning FedEx Cup champion. The 26-year-old has six career PGA Tour titles and helped lead Europe to a win at the Ryder Cup in the fall.
UPDATE: In addition to World No. 4 Viktor Hovland, World No. 5 Xander Schauffele also withdrew from the WM Phoenix Open on Monday.
The seven-time PGA Tour winner was coming off a T-54 at Pebble Beach, but had previously finished T-9 and T-3 at the Famers Insurance Open and the American Express, respectively.
With the Genesis Invitational—another signature event—at Riviera next week, Schauffele was scheduled to play five weeks in a row. But the 30-year-old will now have a break amid this busy early-season stretch.