ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Whether Viktor Hovland, who enters the final round trailing by one stroke, wins the Wanamaker Trophy or not this week at the 105th PGA Championship at Oak Hill is still to be determined, but if he does so it may be due to his secret weapon: Edoardo Molinari.
That would be the older brother of British Open champion Francesco Molinari, a former U.S. Amateur champion, three-time DP World Tour champion and European Ryder Cupper, who is serving as an assistant captain later this year in his native Italy.
Molinari also is an engineer by trade and his keen use of stats made him a trailblazer in the use of data analytics in golf. It also has led to the creation of a business that is helping some of the game’s top players learn their strengths and weaknesses, strategy and course management and how to practice more effectively. Among his students who rely on his advanced data analytics are reigning U.S. Open winner Matt Fitzpatrick, Thomas Pieters and Hovland.
“Viktor’s potential is limitless,” Molinari said. “He’s very keen on the course management. I have regular conversations with Shay (Knight), his caddie, even on the day of the round. Viktor is a super-smart kid and he understands what he wants. Sometimes he’ll ask you a very specific question and then go away and work for a month and then can see the data changing and getting better.”
“I think Viktor realized that his course management was a weakness,” Molinari said. “His ballstriking is probably top 3 on Tour, especially when he’s playing well. He doesn’t miss a shot. It’s more like managing his few misses a little better sometimes playing a bit more aggressive off the tee because when he’s on he doesn’t really miss a fairway.”
Hovland, 25, won the 2018 U.S. Amateur, three times on the PGA Tour, played on Europe’s Ryder Cup team in 2021 and entered the week ranked 11th in the world. At the last two majors, the Norewegian held the 54-hole lead at the British Open and played in the second-to-last group at the Masters in April, but faded from the picture.
When asked to explain why he hadn’t had more success at the majors yet, Hovland explained, “I think that’s been because I’ve just been a little bit young and stupid, just going after some pins that I’m not supposed to go for…
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