You may have some golf friends, but it’s highly unlikely anyone on your team did something like Viktor Hovland did for his old college mate on Monday.
Less than 24 hours after winning the Memorial and a whopping $3.6 million paycheck, Hovland hoisted a golf bag over his shoulders and began competing in a US Open qualifying match for Zach. Bauchou, his college golf teammate at Oklahoma State. (Hovland, of course, has already qualified, given he’s the No. 5 player in the world and all.)
Bauchou will try to survive the longest day in golf, a marathon of drama, exultation and heartbreak as the last qualifiers try to qualify for the upcoming US Open. (Literally anyone can play their way through the tournament, hence the name “Open,” but it’s not easy.) Bauchou will play 36 holes in Columbus, Ohio, conveniently enough for Hovland, who comes from win at nearby Muirfield Village on Sunday.
The USGA is holding 10 of its 13 qualifiers across the country on Monday, as 878 players will battle it out for just 45 remaining spots at next week’s Open at Los Angeles Country Club. Also on the court in Columbus, for example: David Lipsky, who was co-leading 54 holes at the Memorial on Saturday. PGA Championship legend Michael Block will try to fight his way in, as will Block’s son, Dylan. The field of hopes even includes a middle schooler, Jaden Soong, 13.
Three other qualifiers ended before Monday. These events, held in England, Japan and Texas, qualified 18 players, including Sergio Garcia of LIV Golf.
At Lakes Golf & Country Club, about 15 miles from Muirfield Village, Bauchou and Hovland will battle through a field that includes big winners Zach Johnson, Lucas Glover, Geoff Ogilvy and Stewart Cink. But if Hovland can provide Bauchou with a little commemorative mojo, things just might crash the two Pokes way. Hovland won on the first hole of a playoff series, earning its first victory on American soil and establishing itself as a formidable force at the US Open…as well as a wealthy one.
“My biggest tournament win on the regular circuit was the Masters in 1986, $144,000,” Memorial host Jack Nicklaus said, then joked with Hovland. “$3.6 million? You are overpaid.
Maybe. Probably. But Hovland didn’t let all that money get in the way of his loyalty to his friends.