The Ryder Cup roar erupted a day early as Europe’s Viktor Hovland struck a hole in one at the par-four fifth with just a three-wood to send the crowd into raptures at Marco Simone.
There are a few drivable par fours on the Rome course layout, but the fifth is risky with its green protected by water along the left side. However, under no pressure before the real action begins on Friday, Hovland took on the 302-yard hole, apparently with a three-wood in hand, to launch the perfect tee shot.
Murmurs of congratulations then erupted into the biggest cheer yet among watching spectators as the ball reached the flagstick and dropped in.
— Ryder Cup Europe (@RyderCupEurope) September 28, 2023
Norwegian Hovland, one of the best drivers in the European team, was then embraced with congratulatory hugs from Matt Fitzpatrick, Tyrrell Hatton, Justin Rose and Ludvig Aberg.
Unfortunately for the world No 4 it was only a practice round and it was his second attempt at going for the green. The 26-year-old had fanned his first attempt pin-high into the right rough but then reloaded with his three-wood and landed the ball on the green.
He turned away to walk back to his bag only to see the ball roll into the hole followed by loud cheers. He then tossed his club away, before Fitzpatrick jumped on his back. Hatton, meanwhile, was struggling to contain his laughter.
Hovland is now a key figure in the European team. He and Jon Rahm were the only European players to contest all five sessions at Whistling Straits two years ago, with Dustin Johnson – who was the only American to do so – claiming five points as the United States enjoyed a record 19-9 victory.
Asked if he would be happy to play five times again, Hovland had said: “It’s going to be a big one and we’re all going to be running on adrenalin. I think it’s going to be possible but it depends how the weather’s going to be.
“I think we can all have a plan in our head and then when we get there things might change. That’s up to the captain [Luke Donald] to decide if I play five or however many he wants me to play, so we’ll see.”