AUGUSTA, GEORGIA | Viktor Hovland, the U.S. Amateur champion, is a lean, mean, birdie machine who doesn’t rattle easily.
Heading into the 2019 Masters, Hovland was widely expected to earn low-amateur honors. Most golfers, of course, know what can go wrong with such predictions. Hovland stumbled out of the gate in the opening round. He was 2-over par after 11 holes.
No matter. He birdied Nos. 13, 15 and 16 to reach 1 under. A closing bogey left him at even-par 72, a shot better than defending Masters champion Patrick Reed and pre-tournament favorite Rory McIlroy.
Six amateurs received invitations to the Masters. Here’s how they performed in the first round:
Viktor Hovland, Norway, 72, T29
Jovan Rebula, South Africa, 73, T44
Takumi Kanaya, Japan, 73, T44
Alvaro Ortiz, Mexico, 73, T44
Devon Bling, U.S., 74, T58
Kevin O’Connell, U.S., 77, T77
Hovland, an observant young man, is not reluctant to evaluate his own shortcomings. “I didn’t quite have my best stuff,” he said. “But I’m pleased. I certainly don’t p...
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