AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) — To anyone watching from the outside, Viktor Hovland’s swing one year ago was a thing of beauty, producing crisp, accurate shots that led to an opening-round 65 at the Masters and kept him in contention until the back nine on Sunday.

Helped him win the BMW Championship and Tour Championship in consecutive weeks, too.

But to Hovland, an almost obsessive tinkerer, something wasn’t quite right. And the six-time winner on the PGA Tour began to wonder, in his words, whether he had reached “the pinnacle of what my golf swing was able to do.”

So, he decided to find out.

In a surprising move for a player at the top of the game, Hovland parted with his swing coach, Joe Mayo. He began seeking advice from others, including former professional Grant Waite, and this week — as he returned to Augusta National still in search of his first major championship — Hovland was spotted working with instructor Dana Dahlquist.

“I’m still kind of looking for some opinions out there, but I feel like I’m on a good track now,” said Hovland, who has shown glimpses of it this season. The 26-year-old from Norway shot three rounds in the 60s and finished tied for 22nd at Kapalua in January and shot four rounds under par to finish in the top 20 a month later at Riviera.

“It’s like you’re trying to work on something, but it doesn’t necessarily feel exactly right, and then that’s when you kind of have to go back to the drawing board to keep figuring out until things start to click,” he said. “I feel like I’m in that situation now. Now I just have to keep practicing and get the reps in and we’ll see how long that takes.”


Inside the clubhouse at Augusta National, after climbing a steep set of green-carpeted stairs, lies the Crow’s Nest, the modest apartment-like accommodations that have been used by amateurs playing in the Masters for decades.

Along with a simple common room and small bathroom are five single beds, three in their own cubicles and two lining the walls of another. Future champions ranging from Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson to Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods have stayed in the Crow’s Nest, and stories are told of precocious amateurs secretly padding around the clubhouse long after dark.

When the Crow’s Nest is full, it can be a tight squeeze. When one of those amateurs happens to be 6-foot-8?

“There’s very few places in America that have a bed big enough for me,” said Christo Lamprecht, the South African believed to be the tallest player ever to tee off at the Masters, “but I’ve gotten used to that.”

Lamprecht earned an invitation to the Masters, and the Crow’s Nest, with his victory at the British Amateur. He planned to spend just one night there before moving into roomier lodgings, but Lamprecht wasn’t going to miss out on the tradition.

“It’s probably the best uncomfortable sleep I’ll ever have in my life,” he said.


Fred Couples became the oldest player to make the cut at the Masters a year ago, playing the weekend at the age of 63 years, 187 days. It was a special week for the 1992 champion, who has always held Augusta National close to his heart.

That affinity is why Couples, who has a long history of back trouble, is going to such great lengths to play this year.

When he fell at a PGA Tour Champions event a few years ago, it produced pain in a new area that hasn’t gone away. He had several cortisone shots last week to help relieve the inflammation, brought along physiotherapist Chad Beauchamp from California to help him out and has an MRI scheduled for next week to see what else can be done.

“The last thing I want to do is come out and embarrass myself by a bad score,” Couples said. “I know I can hit the ball. What is that? I don’t know if that’s a 73 or a 75, but I’m not shooting 80. There’s no way. I’m just not that kind of person. I wouldn’t do that. Can I shoot 80? Of course I can. But I’m not planning on it.”


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