Viktor Hovland confirms reuniting with swing coach Joe Mayo, opens with 68 at 2024 PGA Championship

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Viktor Hovland has changed coaches yet again. Only this time he’s returned to a familiar face in Joe Mayo.

“Just reached out and was wondering if he could take a look at my golf swing, and let’s get back to work,” Hovland said after posting 3-under 68 in the opening round of the 106th PGA Championship on Thursday at Valhalla Golf Club.

Hovland, the reigning FedEx Cup champion, parted ways with Mayo at the start of the year and worked with noted instructors Grant Waite and Dana Dahlquist this season. Hovland explained these moves in March as searching for that perfect flushed iron shot he cherishes.

“I’m a very curious guy. I like to ask questions,” Hovland said at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. “Sometimes when you ask a question and you get some answers, that leads you down a different path and opens up some new questions and you pursue a different path. I just want to kind of see where it goes. I always like to improve and expand my knowledge.”

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But his play so far this season have been a huge step backwards. The stats don’t lie. In Strokes Gained: tee to green, he tumbled from fourth last season to 122nd and his short game, which had improved under Mayo, slipped from the positive side (+.060) and No. 86 to the negative and No. 186 (-.74) in SG: Around the Green. Hovland, who is No. 89 in the FedEx Cup this season, has just one top-20 finish – a T-19 at the Genesis Invitational – and missed the cut at the Masters after rounds of 71 and 81.

In a terrific story from Kevin Van Valkenberg of No Laying Up, Mayo reflected on his breakup with Hovland.

“I admit that I have a very strong personality,” Mayo said. “I am hard to take in large doses. That’s one of my many many flaws in life. I realize being around me (for) a year full time, like we were, is probably pretty tough. Without question, I know I am hard to handle for a long period of time. When he said he wanted to do it on his own, I was relieved.”

2024 PGA Championship
2024 PGA Championship

Viktor Hovland prepares to tee off on the 12th hole during the first round of the 2024 PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club. (Photo: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports)

In comparing himself to what it must be like to play for former Indiana men’s basketball coach Bobby Knight, Mayo said, “It’s something I’ve struggled with my entire life. I’ve been this way since I was a young man. We’ve all got flaws, nobody is perfect. People who know me will tell you ‘Joe is intense, Joe is tough, Joe is hard to handle.’ I guess what I’m trying to say is this: If I had to be honest, if you threatened me with going to prison if I wasn’t honest with you, then I’d say my personality was probably part of Viktor wanting to do it on his own. I admit that. I admit that my strong personality is a turnoff to some people at some point in time. I’m taking the blame, if you will. I’m man enough to admit that, man enough to sack up and say being around me for a year was probably a lot to handle.”

But Hovland confirmed after the first round of the PGA Championship that he phone Mayo last week and they resumed working together.

“He knows my swing really well. He’s really, really smart, and just has a way of looking at my swing and kind of knowing what it is right away,” Hovland said. “Felt like I got some really good answers, was able to apply some of the feels right away, and I saw improvement right away. Yeah, it’s easy to keep going then.”

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek