Viktor Hovland On 'Contradictory' PGA Tour Leadership, Moving To Florida And Why He Owes Charles Howell III A Lot

From PGA Tour leadership to his move to Florida and why he owes Charles Howell III a lot, catch up with Viktor Hovland's latest press conference

Viktor Hovland hits a drive
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As Viktor Hovland's stature has grown in the game, the Ryder Cup star has not been afraid of voicing his opinions.

The Norwegian has remained loyal to the PGA Tour amid plenty of LIV Golf rumors, but he hasn't been giving his home circuit an easy ride in recent months. 

In December, he said he "totally understands" why Jon Rahm left for LIV Golf and that the PGA Tour had done "such a bad job." Then last week he called the current state of golf both "comical" and "sad."

Hovland, who had the standout season of his career in 2023 when he won two PGA Tour events as well as the FedEx Cup, has managed just one top-20 so far this year after switching swing coaches while also relocating from Oklahoma to Florida.

He tees it up at the Players Championship this week at TPC Sawgrass, where he had plenty of interesting things to say in his pre-tournament press conference...

On PGA Tour leadership

Jay Monahan at his press conference before the Players Championship

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Hovland has been critical of PGA Tour leadership recently, and he believes Monahan should "take ownership" of his mistakes.

"The thing is, like, I play golf for a living. I don't know exactly what should have been done because at the end of the day I don't have all the information, and I don't know that -- I can't just say, okay, this is what exactly needs to be done or should have been done," he said.

"But at the same time, there were some things that were said that has been walked back on and then things have been very contradictory. As a leader of an organization, I will want a person like that to take some ownership and say, hey, we made a couple of mistakes, but this is how we're going to rectify it, instead of kind of sweeping it under the rug, which I felt like has been done to a certain degree. 

"So I don't mind people making mistakes. We all make mistakes. But I think when you make a mistake you got to own up to it and say, hey, we're trying to do better here, and this is how we're going to do it."

Signature events and field sizes

The 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass

This week's Players Championship has a 144-man field with a 36-hole cut, unlike some of the new big-money Signature Events

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The PGA Tour's future is still currently unknown after the new SSG deal and dealings with LIV's backers, the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund, still going on behind-the-scenes.

The landscape has forced big changes to the tour's schedule, including the introduction of the controversial Signature Events - which feature smaller fields and huge prize funds.

"These Signature Events, for example, they have been great for the players that are in the tournaments. I don't know if that's necessarily what the fans want to watch," he said.

"I don't know if it's long-term going to produce a better product or not. I hear the arguments for it, I hear the arguments against it, so I haven't given it too much thought.

"Yeah, certainly I've read Lucas Glover's comments last week where he said having the smaller field sizes are not making it more competitive. Yes, you're getting the best players to play, the top guys to show up, but the fields are more competitive when you have bigger field sizes. I think that's just the fact. There's a reason why we're playing The Players Championship with 144 guys.

"But at the end of the day, I don't know what the fans want to watch. Do they want to watch these limited field sizes or do they want to watch the bigger sizes? I really don't know.

"So, yeah, I just don't know what trajectory we're on. I think a lot of that is depending upon the fact of what happens to the LIV guys; do they come back eventually. I don't think it's a great outlook if we keep being divided for 10, 15 years, whatever, however long it's going to take.

"There has to be some kind of decision being made in the future."

Charles Howell III

Charles Howell III salutes the crowd after holing a putt

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Hovland opened up on how his fellow OSU alumnus Charles Howell III helped him out in his early years on tour. He owes Charles Howell III "a lot," he said.

"I remember my rookie year on Tour I traveled a lot with Charles Howell and his family, obviously ties to Oklahoma State, and their family's just great people. Played a bunch of practice rounds with him, even though he liked to play a little bit earlier than I do.

"He took me under his wing, and I just fired a bunch of questions at him, and he answered honestly. Obviously being out here for so long, it's not about technical stuff or - it's more the smaller things, how you handle yourself, how you handle your business, and just kind of believing that you're good enough to play out there.

"It's not so much the tips but just being around people that have the experience and they believe in you, they like being around you. I think that just gives you the most comfort.

"So I owe a lot to Charles Howell and his family."

Staying on the outside

While he might not like everything that has happened with the PGA Tour, he isn't interested in spending his time in meetings, saying he has trust in the PAC to represent players' interests.

"I could have definitely gone out of my way to put more time and effort into figuring out what kind of trajectory we're on and put myself into that debate a bit more," Hovland said.

"Although, I do trust the players on the PAC to represent the players in the best way possible and I have been in communication with some of those guys to fill me in.

"But at the same time, I'm just not that interested in spending my free time in trying to figure out every single nuance in the situation. So, I'm trying to stay outside a little bit and play my game, because, yeah, I trust the guys on the board to kind of do their thing."

SSG Grants

Viktor Hovland wins Tour Championship

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The Norwegian was asked about the PGA Tour's new deal with Strategic Sports Group, which will see players handed $1.5bn in equity grants.

"I don't know how the PGA Tour, as a franchise, works. If there is enough money out there that is sustainable, I think the players should be paid a fair share," he said on Wednesday at TPC Sawgrass.

"Now, I have no idea what the fair share is. If SSG wants to put money into that kind of grant to pay top players, who am I to just say no to that. But I'm not going to throw a fit if I don't get any money. If that makes sense.

"So, I really don't know what the finances are and how this is sustainable. Obviously I think there should be a plan put in place where if the PGA Tour does better, there's more viewership, the business grows, I think the players should have some way to be paid accordingly with that growth, if that's the SSG grant that they're given, sure, that's a way to do it.

"But I really don't know. So, again, that's probably part of my, that's something that I need to look into further to inform myself better."

Moving to Florida

Hovland has remained in Oklahoma, where he attended college, until now. The World No.4 has relocated to South Florida, where many of the world's best players live, in order to, perhaps, enjoy lower tax as well as the better year-round weather.

He is yet to decide where his new home club will be.

"Yeah, still trying to figure out where I want to practice full-time over there. I had a great time so far. I haven't really been doing too much besides playing golf," he said.

"Obviously in South Florida there aren't too many other places to beat, when it comes to playing golf there. I certainly miss Oklahoma, I miss the people out there, and the golf is great over there. You get some tough weather that you have to show up and grind in, which sometimes you don't quite get in South Florida, even though it's certainly windy enough, so that gives you some challenge.

"But the cold days, the super windy days and all that stuff, I certainly miss that in Oklahoma. But for everyday practice, the facilities are always in great shape and the weather is always nice enough that you can practice putting and chipping and all that stuff.

"So, hopefully it will help me in the future and I've told the guys at, for example, Oklahoma State, if things aren't necessarily ideal in your practice facilities, that it's not the facilities that are making you good, it's, you have to use the facilities in a way that's going to make you better.

"So, just by moving to Florida, it's not going to make my game better. I have to practice in a way that's going to make me better, but I think it's a lot easier to do so there."

Pete Dye is a "genius"

The fourth hole at TPC Sawgrass

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This week's venue, TPC Sawgrass, is Pete Dye's most famous course - and Hovland is a massive fan of the legendary designer.

"I'm a big fan of Pete Dye golf courses in general," the 26-year-old stated.

"I think this course does a really good job of separating the players that are on their game that week, and if you're a little bit off you get penalized.

"There's a lot of really tough visually tee shots and small greens, and there's good opportunities to shoot low scores, but at the same time there's a lot of water and other things going on, so I love the golf course and played good here the last two years, so hopefully try to build on that.

"I just think he builds fair golf courses, but off the tee it might not necessarily look that there's a whole lot of room, but when you get up there, there's plenty of room. It's just visually intimidating, and I like how he uses angles really well, particularly on par-3 holes.

"I think he's just a genius, and I really like a lot of his golf courses."

Elliott Heath
News Editor

Elliott Heath is our News Editor and has been with Golf Monthly since early 2016 after graduating with a degree in Sports Journalism. He manages the Golf Monthly news team as well as our large Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. He covered the 2022 Masters from Augusta National as well as five Open Championships on-site including the 150th at St Andrews. His first Open was in 2017 at Royal Birkdale, when he walked inside the ropes with Jordan Spieth during the Texan's memorable Claret Jug triumph. He has played 35 of our Top 100 golf courses, with his favourites being both Sunningdales, Woodhall Spa, Western Gailes, Old Head and Turnberry. He has been obsessed with the sport since the age of 8 and currently plays off of a six handicap. His golfing highlights are making albatross on the 9th hole on the Hotchkin Course at Woodhall Spa, shooting an under-par round, playing in the Aramco Team Series on the Ladies European Tour and making his one and only hole-in-one at the age of 15 - a long time ago now!

Elliott is currently playing:

Driver: Titleist TSR4

3 wood: Titleist TSi2

Hybrids: Titleist 816 H1

Irons: Mizuno MP5 5-PW

Wedges: Cleveland RTX ZipCore 50, 54, 58

Putter: Odyssey White Hot OG #5

Ball: Srixon Z Star XV