ROME — The room got a good laugh. Question after question had found its way to Rory McIlroy following Team Europe’s win in last weekend’s Ryder Cup. McIlroy, as is his habit, was the focus of all attention. A reporter offered to take a break for McIlroy. “I have one for Jon,” “The reporter said,” he got the attention from Jon Rahm. Rahm feigned to wake up.

“About time,” McIlroy, who was indignantly looking at Rahm and then returning to the audience of reporters said: “he’s only the best player in the world!”

Everyone chortled.

Include Viktor Hovland.

It seemed lost on all that the real joke at the moment was the seeming obliviousness to the young man who — right now, at this moment — is playing better golf than anyone in the world. No attention was given to Hovland last Sunday. He did not receive a single press question during the 27-minute conference. He was barely mentioned.

It is not despite Hovland being one of only two Europeans to play all five matches in his team’s 16 1/2 — 11 1/2 victory over the Americans. And despite him scoring 3 1/2 points, the lone loss coming in a Saturday afternoon fourball match when playing partner Ludvig Åberg couldn’t keep the ball on the planet. And despite his putting Collin Morikawa inside a bodybag when they played Sunday singles. He is the FedEx Cup champion for 2023.

You should also be “Said, despite him not being the next great star In professional golf, there are many different types of players.

If there’s a takeaway to be The Ryder Cup is over, but the memories of these two months of professional golf and this Ryder Cup are still fresh. be this. Many young golfers are destined to be stars. Only a few fully manifest. Hovland This is proving to be true be One of those rare cases that sees it through. Like McIlroy. Rahm is just like McIlroy. Here’s where Hovland It is going to be a residence.

This isn’t sportswriter hyperbole. Luke Donald, European Ryder Cup captain, has quietly brought to light an extraordinary side. Hovland’s genius last week. Donald remembered Whistlingstraits. Hovland The 2021 Ryder Cup saw one of the world’s top ball-strikers beaten by his short-game. Two years later, the Ryder Cup was held in Rome. Hovland’s short-game stats were team-best. It turns out that he shares a trait with only the greatest.

“He’s worked so hard on his weaknesses,” Donald said “and they have become strengths.”

That’s why it’s past time to give Hovland more attention, to attempt to understand him better, to maybe ask him how he’s gotten so damn good.

Because anyone who’s paying attention knows what’s coming next.

“Wouldn’t surprise me,” Donald said “if he’ll win a bunch of majors coming up.”

“Hello, suuurrrrr! How are you?!”

Here’s how to do it Viktor Hovland speaks. Every word you hear invites you to join them for a drink.

We spoke on the phone a couple of weeks before the Ryder Cup. He returned to Oklahoma, where he lived from 2016 when he was a student at Oklahoma State. He led the Pokes in winning a national championship, and stacked the shelves of awards. Today, Hovland Stillwater, Okla., is his home. Because he’s Viktor Hovland And he’s endearingly strange. He has an air about him. Broad, handsome. Shoulders like a bricklayer Yet completely unthreatening. Giant smile. He laughs so loudly that he closes his eyes. Everyone loves him. A Norwegian Marty McFly.

How did someone with a leaning towards a conscientious-objector come to be? be Such a killer. Hovland He is not only an elite player. He’s an elite winner. There’s a difference. Hovland Five years after starting to play golf, he won the Norwegian Amateur. He then won the U.S. Amateur. He turned pro in 2019 and has won six times on the PGA Tour including three marquee wins this season — the Memorial, the BMW and the Tour Championship. What’s his edge?

“Well, I’m trying to psychoanalyze myself,” He told me by stopping and starting. “I think I try to be a little stoic about things. Obviously, I’m competitive. I want to beat people. But I don’t have to go out of my way to show you I beat you. It’s more, ‘Oh, I made another putt. Four birdies in a row!’ I let that speak for itself and, yes, I smile when I’m doing it.”

Watching is a beautiful experience Hovland play. Indifferently strange, but calculating. Full tilt, but composed. You’ve probably seen him taking a practice swing on a driver. A typical pro will get behind the ball for a relaxed rehearsal. Hovland? He takes two breakneck lashes. Looks like he’s planning to hit a five-run homer. He then pounds the ball unfazed, despite anyone or anything.

After winning the singles match against Morikawa on Sunday, Hovland watched Justin Rose’s attempt to close out a match versus Patrick Cantlay. On the 17th tee, Rose’s caddie, Mark Fulcher, told a volunteer to lower a sign that created a shadow about 10 feet behind him. Then Rose noticed Fulcher, too, was casting a small shadow, and asked him to move. Fulcher apologized, and then knelt. Watching such nuance from behind the tee Hovland He could not contain his laughter.

Hovland’s version of nuance? A day earlier on Marco Simone’s seventh hole, he arrived at the tee with music blasting in the near distance and never seemed to notice it. He snipped it, flushed, then returned to his bag before noticing the song. The lyrics? “Why’d you have to go and make things so complicated … ”

“Sometimes when I’m in that zone, it just feels easy,” Hovland It was weeks before. “I’m hitting the shots close to the pin. When I’m standing over the ball, I’m feeling the ball go into the hole, instead of thinking, ‘Don’t miss this,’ or ‘Don’t hit it there.’ It just happens.”

Here’s how to do it Hovland It was the embodiment of what would become a European Ryder Cup show deserving of every adjective. Historic. Epic. Ruthless.

Viktor Hovland, right, had a 3-0-1 record in the 2023 Ryder Cup, making it clear he was one of Europe’s Big 3. (Patrick Smith/Getty Images).

Playing the second group in the first session. Hovland Marco Simone went into a frenzy after he chipped from the first green. He was the catalyst for a 4-0-0 opening session. In the afternoon he and Tyrrell had to overcome a 2 down deficit in order to beat Jordan Spieth. A moment on the 18th. Hovland’s 26-foot birdie putt arrived at the lip, hanging in suspended animation, taking all the air, freezing Hovland In place, then fell. Hysteria.

Saturday morning arrived. Hovland and Åberg versus Scottie Scheffler and Brooks Koepka. The Ryder Cup has seen players get their asses stomped on before. But never before. Hovland and Åberg left the No. Aberg left the No. In an alternate shot format, they were 8-under at one point in a stretch of 9 holes. This is a relatively uncommon feat. Scheffler and Koepka lost the match in just two hours and twenty minutes. The match ended on the 11th hole, 9&7.

Hovland and Åberg dropped an afternoon match to Morikawa and Sam Burns, but Hovland Take revenge next morning. What was thought of be A matchup between two 26-year old ball-striking masters was instead a further proof that Hovland’s growing status. He was three holes ahead of Morikawa (a two-time major champion). He won the match at the 15th.

Anyone surprised hasn’t been paying attention. Before Rome Hovland McIlroy was the only player in the world to have gained more strokes in the past three months. While he can carry the perception of an uncomplicated masher — violent swing, shirt perpetually coming untucked — he’s anything but.

“I try to use math and science and numbers and statistics to base my reasoning, to guide me to make better decisions, and I use common sense,” Hovland He said that his approach was “simple and straightforward”. “When you combine common sense with math and physics, and you work hard on those things every day.

“That’s why I’ve seen results every single year and gotten better. So I just keep doing that.”

You can only fully appreciate the distance Viktor Hovland has come, and how quickly, it’s worth remembering that Sunday in late May at Oak Hill. It’s been almost four months since that Sunday in late May at Oak Hill. Hovland In the final group, he was paired with Brooks Koepka, who is a formidable competitor. They jockeyed throughout the day. Koepka established and maintained a lead but Hovland Refused to stop. The 16th hole was the exception. Hovland A fairway bunker was found on the right of a par 4 that is long. On the downslope, bad lie. The bunker’s front lip wasn’t too high, but it was there. Hovland He thought he would be able to smash an iron and carry the face of a bunker while staying in the hole. He was wrong. He hit the ball with a screamer and his first major was ruined.

In the present moment Hovland stood stunned. Shock. Disbelief. Everything is swirling. He shot a double-bogey, and finished the round two shots behind. Koepka has won five majors in his career.

The ending was one that is usually associated with residuals.

You can also find out more about the following: HovlandOnly lessons. It came with lessons.

“You can decide to bury yourself in a hole and talk yourself down and beat yourself up, but that’s not going to accomplish anything,” Hovland Tell me. “You decide what your truth is going to be. You decide how it affects your future.”

Such a holism could come from anyone. be As if it were a rant. But Hovland It is not someone. When he said, “You have to control where your thoughts are going,” You believe that he has the ability to do so.

His attitude to the game matches with his disposition. It’s a deadly combination. That’s how he turned the empty disappointment of Oak Hill into a springboard for a summer that’s changed his place in the game.

“Coming out of there, I truly believed that if I found myself in that spot again, I would handle it a lot better,” Hovland said. “It wasn’t long after that I won the Memorial.”

Hovland credits his Norwegian roots and the road he’s taken from Oslo to Oklahoma.

“I have a different perspective on things because I grew up in a different culture, but became an adult in the United States,” He said. “I’ve always been really open-minded, in the sense that I’ve been very malleable to my surroundings. You can either fight change or embrace it. I embrace it.”

That’s gotten him here.

In plain view, the best of the world.

(Top image: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images).