Instruction

Viktor Hovland’s secret to Augusta’s 12th hole? He calls it the ‘Oklahoma shot’

AUGUSTA, Ga. — It took two different players hitting three shots into the water on the 12th hole for Viktor Hovland to call upon his secret weapon.

“I have a good Oklahoma shot,” he says. “I saw Jordan spin one up in the air and hit it in the water. Xander kind of did the same thing.” 

Hovland’s Oklahoma Shot is effectively an more severe knockdown shot. Whereas for a traditional knockdown he pairs a ball back in his stance with an abbreviated follow through, for his Oklahoma Shot, he adds two extra components: A stronger grip, and much more forward shaft lean. He’ll try to keep his right shoulder even lower through the shot, too. It all allows him to “manufacture” a ball flight that’s lower and less spinning than a traditional knockdown.

“I show a couple more knuckles on my left hand and really lean the shaft hard,” he says. “It basically doesn’t put any spin on the ball. It just goes straight through the wind.”

Hovland said he taught himself the shot in college. Freshman year he learned he needed to add that shot to his arsenal, and by sophomore year he had perfected it.

“I was really good at hitting it low,” he said.

He’s hit the Oklahoma Shot just twice this week, both on the 12th hole. On Thursday his shot ended less than a foot from the hole for a tap in birdie. On Friday, he was the only player in his group to avoid the creek, leaving his ball 20 feet past the hole for a stress free par.

The two shots meant Hovland picked up a stroke-and-a-half over the field, which averaged the hole in 6.5 strokes over the two days. By day’s end on Friday, he had made the cut on the number. His play on those two holes — along with his ability to call on a shot few others have perfected — ultimately proved decisive.

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