Oklahoma State star Viktor Hovland was not only the low amateur in the field this week during the 119th U.S. Open at Pebble Beach but also a record-setter as his 72-hole mark of 280 broke Jack Nicklaus’ U.S. Open record for the lowest such score by an amateur.
Hovland’s 4-under 280 eclipsed Nicklaus’ mark, which stood for 59 years. Nicklaus was the low amateur and runner-up to Arnold Palmer at the 1960 U.S. Open in Cherry Hills, Colorado, with a score 282. Palmer beat Nicklaus by two in what would actually be the only U.S. Open victory across his seven major wins.
“I didn’t know that,” Hovland said with a laugh moments after the round while being interviewed by Fox Sports’ Joel Klatt. “Wow. I didn’t know that. That’s pretty cool.”
Hovland shot a 4-under round of 67 on Sunday at Pebble Beach, dropping four birdies on a bogey-free front nine and finishing the round with a birdie at 18 to cap off the memorable week. While we never saw Hovland at the top of the leaderboard, he was as steady as anyone in the field this week, ranking in the top five in both fairways and greens.
This performance shouldn’t come as a huge surprise since he was the low amateur at the Masters earlier this year, but it affirms the notion that he’s ready to compete right away as a pro on the PGA Tour.
That challenge to hang as a pro will begin next week for Hovland and Oklahoma State teammate Matthew Wolff. Both players are making their professional debuts next week at the Travelers Championship in Connecticut and will battle across the second half of the season to earn a spot on the PGA Tour for 2019-20.
So while Hovland set a new amateur record at the U.S. Open this week, the immediate concern moving forward will be earning as much money as possible in winnings to carve out a spot as the next young star from the NCAA circuit.