With the announcers from Fox raving about his ball striking, touch and attitude, Oklahoma State’s Viktor Hovland made a huge and favorable first impression on millions of golf fans with his play over two days in the U.S. Open in a featured pairing with two-time defending champion Brooks Koepka and 2018 Open Championship winner Francesco Molinari.
Hovland opened with a 2-under 69 and came back with a 2-over 73 in the second round and his even-par score has him currently tied for 38th and he should easily make the cut.
Hovland, the world’s top-ranked amateur and winner of the 2018 U.S. Amateur, also at Pebble Beach, bolted out to a 4-under run in his first seven holes that left him tied for second place, just one stroke off the lead. A double-bogey on the eighth hole stunted his first-round momentum but he played solid from there with OSU coach Alan Bratton serving again as his caddie as he did in the U.S. Amateur and again when Hovland was low amateur at The Masters. He will turn professional after this week.
OSU teammate Austin Eckroat, who earned his spot by advancing through local and regional qualifying, opened with an impressive 1-over 72. Playing the back nine first on Friday, he had a 6-over stretch in six holes 12-17 but bounced back to record three birdies on the front side and finished with a 4-over 75, currently tied for 120th and should finish above that following the afternoon wave.
Eckroat will return to OSU in the fall to be the leader of a rebuilt Cowboy lineup. He is aiming for a spot on the U.S. Walker Cup team later this summer.