'We've Got To Protect The Field' - Hovland On Berger Rules Controversy

World No.3 Viktor Hovland defends himself after controversial rules incident with Daniel Berger

Viktor Hovland speaks to the media after final round of Players Championship
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Daniel Berger was left angry after Viktor Hovland denied him what he felt was the correct spot to drop during the final round of the Players Championship. Berger hit his second shot into the water on the par-5 16th hole at TPC Sawgrass and hoped to take a drop much further up the hole, where he felt the ball had crossed the penalty area. The pair later agreed on a suitable spot. 

Speaking about the incident after the round, Hovland said: “Yeah, it's not a fun conversation. Daniel's game is great, and I have massive respect for him as a player. But at the end of the day, we've got to protect the field and protect all the other guys. It's not a fun conversation, but when you strongly believe in something, you kind of have to stand your ground.”

Hovland described his vantage point of the shot and how he traced the ball in the air. The Norwegian said: “I was in kind of more of the left side of the fairway, Berger hitting from the right side, and Joel was kind of in the middle. But as soon as Daniel hit it in the air, he said, oh, water ball, and then I was watching the whole flight, and it was just short right of the green in the water on 16.”

“From my perspective, obviously I was a little further left than Daniel, in my opinion I did not think the ball started very far left of the pin. It looked like it kind of started at the pin and then cut towards the end because the wind was also a little bit off the left. He obviously thought that he started it way left of the pin and then he kind of cut hard at the end, but that's not what Joel and I saw."

Berger would go on to bogey the hole and post a two-under par 70, finishing in a tie for thirteenth. Hovland finished in a tie for ninth after a closing 69.

Whilst a difficult situation to manage, especially with the purse and prize money on offer, Hovland revealed there was no bad blood between the two: "It's not like we're trying to dog on Daniel and trying to screw him over. It's just, that's what we believe, and he obviously felt strongly the other way. It's just what it is. I'm not accusing him of anything."

Hovland returns to action this week at the Valspar Championship, where the prize money is a little different to the Players Championship.

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James joined Golf Monthly having previously written for other digital outlets. He is obsessed with all areas of the game – from tournament golf, to history, equipment, technique and travel. He is also an avid collector of memorabilia; with items from the likes of Bobby Jones, Tiger Woods, Francis Ouimet, Arnold Palmer, Lee Trevino, Adam Scott and Ernie Els. As well as writing for Golf Monthly, James’ golfing highlight is fist bumping Phil Mickelson on his way to winning the Open Championship at Muirfield in 2013. James grew up on the east coast of England and is the third generation of his golfing family. He now resides in Leeds and is a member of Cobble Hall Golf Club with a handicap index of 1.7. His favourite films are The Legend of Bagger Vance and Tin Cup.