It’s dubbed “Golf’s Longest Day,” a grueling 36-hole slog endured by hundreds of players across the US and Canada as they battle to stamp a last-minute ticket to the 123rd US Open Championship in California next week.
It’s a war of attrition that all the top stars on the PGA Tour are exempt from, their place at the major already assured. But that didn’t stop the Tour’s newest champion from taking part.
Because less than 24 hours after victory at the Memorial Tournament, Viktor Hovland was back out on the course to caddy for his former college roommate at a final qualifying event in Columbus, Ohio on Monday.
The Norwegian took up the bag for fellow Oklahoma State University alumni Zach Bauchou, who teed off bright and early at 8am E.T. at Lakes Golf and Country Club. Ranked 1859th in the world, Bauchou is one of 103 players vying for 11 spots in his qualifying group, and shot one-over par across his first nine holes to trail the leading score by five strokes.
The duo, teammates in OSU Cowboy Golf’s 2018 title-winning side, are set to start the second 18-hole leg of the qualifier at Brookside Golf and Country Club at 2 p.m. E.T.
It will mark Hovland’s third Ohio course stint in 24 hours after sealing his fourth career PGA Tour triumph at Muirfield Village Golf Club on Sunday. If that wasn’t taxing enough, the victory arrived via the longest route possible – a playoff.
An agonizing closing bogey from Denny McCarthy saw the American – chasing his maiden PGA Tour title – join Hovland in a replay of the 18th hole, the pair unable to be separated at seven-under par overall.
Hovland had been four shots adrift of the lead with nine holes to play but roared back, holing the round’s only 17th hole birdie to reel in McCarthy. Having not shot below bogey all week, the 25-year-old fittingly capped an unnerving week of consistency with a par to win.
The triumph sealed Hovland $3.6 million in prize money and lifted him to World No. 5. Fresh off a joint runner-up finish at the PGA Championship and a tied-seventh outing at The Masters, the Norwegian heads into the third major of the season in terrific form.
“It’s incredible,” Hovland told reporters.
“Obviously I feel like I’ve won a decent amount of tournaments for only being a pro for four year, however, they have been at low key places, resort courses, and abroad, so it feels really cool to get my first win on the U.S. soil.
“Especially at a tournament like this where this week the golf course is arguably harder than most major championship golf courses we play and the crowds were amazing out there. It felt like a major. So it was a really cool that I was able to get it done at a place like this.”