Viktor Hovland continued to play Riviera his own way during the first round of the Genesis Invitational as he took his unique line of playing down a different hole on the 15th.
The Norwegian plays 15 differently to anyone else in the field, as last year he fired the ball way off to the right off the tee, playing down the neighbouring 17th in fact to cut off the dog leg right.
For this year’s tournament a huge electronic scoreboard has been position just off to the right of the 15th tee box where Hovland had been aiming last year.
Whether intentional or not to stop him taking the scenic route, it did not deter Hovland as he again lined up to the right on the 15th tee in the first round and duly blazed his tee shot 303 yards down the 17th.
He was left with 171 yards in from a nice angle but still having to come in over a greenside bunker – finding the green nicely to leave himself 23 feet for a birdie. He missed it but knocked in a two-footer for par.
So does it gain Hovland an advantage? It seemingly only improves the angle slightly, and depending on the pin placement, while Rory McIlroy says the move is designed for anyone who can’t carry the fairway bunker on 15.
Not sure if the scoreboard right of the 15th tee was meant to deter Hovland or not, but he continued his strategy of playing the 15th tee shot down the 17th fairway.Tee in 2022 -> Tee in 2023 pic.twitter.com/rZ4Bdp0DHxFebruary 16, 2023
The 15th did rank as the third hardest hole on the course during this first round of the Genesis, so maybe Hovland is right to seek an alternate route to try and make it a little easier.
If Tiger Woods hadn’t returned to the PGA Tour this week then maybe Hovland’s take on 15 would be the big story around Riviera, and plenty have had their say on his plans.
It’ll be one to watch at the tournament goes on though, to see if Hovland can gain some kind of advantage from his plan – which he shows no signs of moving away from anytime soon.
Spoke to Rory about this play yesterday. He said it only makes sense if you can’t fly the bunker on 15. Then he smiled. Because he can fly the bunker on 15. Easily. https://t.co/JNHkFMKoGkFebruary 16, 2023
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