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Dear Viktor Hovland,

We knew you were special when, in a 12-month period from 2018 to 2019, you won the US Amateur to earn a spot in the following year’s Masters, US Open and Open. You finished 32nd and 12th in the first two respectively to take the low-am spot in each before forgoing your spot at Royal Portrush to see if you could make money from this game.

Spoiler alert: You could.

And oh we we laughed when you told the bookmakers who had made you the favourite to win the John Deere Classic just four weeks into your professional career to “stay off the weed”.

Golf, as we all know, loves a character.

But the oddsmakers knew what we knew. You were a remarkable talent emerging on the PGA Tour and that showed when you made half a million before the end of the year. Then, a few weeks later, you were a winner at the Puerto Rico Open.

2023 Ryder Cup

If people didn’t know about you by this point, more fool them. Folks all over the globe were falling in love with your infectious personality and your swashbuckling style of play.

On this side of the Atlantic, we were leaning in with an eyebrow raised for Europe’s newest wunderkind. There was, after all, the small matter of an upcoming Ryder Cup.

But no sport humanises the superhuman quite like golf, Viktor, and it was when you found yourself greenside that we would all close our eyes and pray. So, it seems, did you.

“I just suck at chipping,” you said after earning that maiden title in February 2020. A humble admission that made us want to hold you closer.

• Ryder Cup: An unforgettable sunrise in the Eternal City

What a difference the last three-and-a-half years have made. Since that self-deprecation in the Caribbean, you have discovered your touch, added seven more trophies to your cabinet, and 50-odd million more to your bank account – much of which was courtesy of a giant cheque FedExed from East Lake to your Oklahoma home.

And that Ryder Cup debut at Whistling Straits, in which you played all five matches and returned two halves – or ties, as we are now being asked to call them – for a single point? Well, that wasn’t your fault. You had three different playing partners in the opening two days, including the hopelessly out-of-sorts Paul Casey and fellow rookie Bernd Wiesberger.

Now, two years later, with the likes of Nicolai Hojgaard, Bob MacIntyre and Sepp Straka in Luke Donald’s side, you somehow feel like a veteran of the match. And that could not have been highlighted more by the fact you were paired in the opening morning foursomes with Ludvig Aberg, the Swede who was still in college just a few months ago.

And it could not have started better. After your Scandi cousin fired one into the back of the first green, leaving around 15 yards from the fringe, you opted for the wedge and drained the first birdie of the 2023 Ryder Cup.

The roar from back down on the tee said it all. Viktor 2.0 is now one of the most confident chippers in the world. The rest of the match, which you and Aberg won comfortably, was littered with crowd-pleasing flop shots and bunker escapes that would make Seve blush.

“You chip, it goes in, you lose your shit,” you said in your post-match interview. We’ll add that to the long list of your memorable quotes.

Speaking of losing it. Twenty-four hours earlier, you had hit another improbable shot, holing out from the tee on the par-4 fifth.

But it’s one thing doing it in practice, or when you’re cruising against two rookies who looked like deer in Brian Harman’s headlights, it’s another thing doing it against the formidable fourballs pairing of Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas.

We were all nervous for you, and when you were two-down with five to play, we were readying our excuses. But you’re Viktor effing Hovland, for crying out loud, and when you and your equally-tenacious right-hand man for the afternoon, Tyrrell Hatton, ground out half a point, Rome erupted. And what a way to seal it.

Even after such a tense battle, you managed to see the lighter side. “It was about time the ball went in,” you said. You will surely play all five sessions now.

You’re the cheeky chappy from Oslo who is fast becoming a silent assassin. You have helped your side to a record-equalling day one margin, and who could argue that, right now, you are the best player on the planet?

There are majors in your future, for sure. For now, though, we’ll savour your coming of age in Italy. It’s the start of something very special – and we can’t wait to share a lifetime of memories with you.

Listen to our ramblings on Viktor Hovland and the rest of the on daily episodes of The bunkered Podcast.

author headshot

Alex Perry is the Associate Editor of bunkered. A journalist for more than 20 years, he has been a golf industry stalwart for the majority of his career and, in a five-year spell at ESPN, covered every sporting event you can think of. He completed his own Grand Slam at the 2023 Masters, having fallen in love with the sport at his hometown club of Okehampton and on the links of nearby Bude & North Cornwall.

Associate Editor

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