Viktor Hovland may have been at the centre of some controversy during the Players Championship when he denied Daniel Berger a drop during the pair’s final round, but he has a chance to make headlines for very different reasons this week.
The Norwegian has been in the top 10 since winning the World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba last November, while he’s been ever-present in the top 20 since December 2020. However, he’s yet to become World No.1 - but that will change if he wins this week’s Valspar Championship.
Hovland is undoubtedly coming into the event at Innisbrook’s Copperhead Course in decent enough form. After missing the cut at the WM Phoenix Open last month, he has responded in some style, posting top 10 finishes at the Genesis Invitational, Arnold Palmer Invitational and last week’s Players Championship. Indeed, he was runner-up at Bay Hill, while his performance at TPC Sawgrass even included a sublime hole-in-one.
While Hovland will be confident of doing what's required to become World No.1, current World No.2 Collin Morikawa can also claim the top spot by winning the tournament. But, unlike Hovland, Morikawa has a few other routes to the summit. He’ll also become World No.1 if he finishes outright second or in a two or three-way tie for the runner’s up position, as long as Hovland doesn’t win.
If these possibilities leave current World No.1, Jon Rahm looking over his shoulder, it wouldn’t be without justification. The Spaniard has been inconsistent of late. Three top 10 finishes in 2022 sit close to several disappointing performances, including a tie for 55th last week. With Rahm not competing this week, there’s a real danger that his eight-month stay at the top of the rankings could come to an end.
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Mike has over 25 years of experience in journalism, including writing on a range of sports throughout that time, such as golf, football and cricket. Now a freelance staff writer for Golf Monthly, he is dedicated to covering the game's most newsworthy stories.
He has written hundreds of articles on the game, from features offering insights into how members of the public can play some of the world's most revered courses, to breaking news stories affecting everything from the PGA Tour and LIV Golf to developmental Tours and the amateur game.
Mike grew up in East Yorkshire and began his career in journalism in 1997. He then moved to London in 2003 as his career flourished, and nowadays resides in New Brunswick, Canada, where he and his wife raise their young family less than a mile from his local course.
Kevin Cook’s acclaimed 2007 biography, Tommy’s Honour, about golf’s founding father and son, remains one of his all-time favourite sports books.
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