Viktor Hovland ready for DP World Tour Championship after ‘boring’ time off

Viktor Hovland ready for DP World Tour Championship after ‘boring’ time off

Viktor Hovland rarely takes time off, let alone six weeks.

Fans last saw him at the Ryder Cup, where he helped lead Team Europe to a resounding victory over the Americans. Hovland earned 3.5 points there, second only to Rory McIlroy, who won four.

But since then, Hovland stepped away from the game. He returns to golf this week at the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.

“I was surprisingly bored,” Hovland said of his furlough.

“Went out for a lot of walks. Just hung out with a lot of friends, worked out, just staying active. You know, I really like listening to podcasts. I try to learn as much as I can and try to. I haven’t really read any books in my entire life, so I wanted to take up reading a little bit more and just, yeah, learn some more things.”

As a curious 26-year-old, Hovland listened to numerous podcasts on various subjects, eager to learn more about our world.

Viktor Hovland, Ryder Cup

Viktor Hovland celebrates with the Ryder Cup trophy.
Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images

But he also wanted to improve and get better—pretty impressive for someone who won three marquee events on the PGA Tour and took home more than $30 million in 2023.

“A lot of self-improvement stuff. You know, there’s a lot of biohackers out there. Always try to optimize what I can do,” Hovland said when asked what podcasts he listens to.

“If I want to recover better, what can I do to recover better; how do you sleep better? You know, just random little things like that. How can you supplement better? Then some history stuff, and then exploring kind of mysteries of the world, you know, pyramids in Egypt. I was in Malta over the break, and they have a lot of ancient temples there. Just learn more about history and where we all come from.”

Perhaps this additional knowledge will help Hovland become a more holistic player. He has all the physical tools he needs to be a legend of the game.

Be that as it may, the only accolade missing from his trophy case right now is a major championship. It seems that one will come soon enough; it is a matter of when, not if.

But learning more about sleep and supplements will lead to better health, both mentally and physically. You need both of those vital tenets to win major championships.

Hovland knows this, so he used the Fall to better himself while away from the game.

“Six weeks, it feels like a long time,” Hovland admitted.

“You know, you need those breaks to recharge because it’s hopefully a long career. So you’ve got to — you can’t play every single event out there, but I do feel like my game is good enough to step up and play as well as I did before the break.”

Viktor Hovland, PGA Tour, TOUR Championship

Viktor Hovland tees off on the 16th hole during the final round of the 2023 Tour Championship.
Photo by Ben Jared/PGA Tour

Indeed, Hovland has the talent to compete with any player in the world. What he did at the BMW Championship and the Tour Championship was remarkable. His triumph over Denny McCarthy in a playoff at the Memorial was admirable.

He also finished in the top 20 at each of the four majors in 2023, one of two players—Xander Schauffele being the other—to do so.

“I put so much pressure on myself to play perfect golf because I felt like I had to play perfect golf to win tournaments, but I don’t believe that I have to do that anymore,” Hovland added.

“It’s almost like, yes, there are more expectations because I know what I’m capable of doing, but at the same time, if I don’t play to that level, I’m not going to freak out, either. There’s a sense of calmness.”

It seems as if Hovland has matured beyond his years over these past six weeks.

He better understands himself, his game, and how he needs to carry himself in the future.

If that is his definition of ‘bored,’ then so be it—but it sounds like he used his time wisely: to reflect and recharge. That elite combo could make Hovland much more dangerous in 2024.

Watch out. Hovland is back and perhaps better than ever.

Jack Milko is a golf staff writer for SB Nation’s Playing Through. You can follow him on Twitter @jack_milko for more golf coverage. Be sure to check out @_PlayingThrough too.

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