Viktor Hovland tried to 'protect the field' over drop disagreement with Daniel Berger

Viktor Hovland said he had “massive respect” for Daniel Berger despite feeling the American wanted to take a wrong drop during the final round of The Players Championship.

Viktor Hovland during the final round of The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass. Picture: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images.
Viktor Hovland during the final round of The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass. Picture: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images.

The Norwegian stuck to his guns after Berger had found water with his approach at the par-5 16th at TPC Sawgrass.

"You normally work it out amongst yourselves," said a rules official. Replying, Berger said: "This is a bad drop here, I’m telling you. I’ll drop here, if this is where you guys want me to drop. But it’s way too far back."

However, Hovland said of that: “I’m not really okay with it being up there.”

Afterwards, Hovland was asked about the disagreement, which was a rare sight at the top level in the game.

“As soon as Daniel hit it in the air, he said, ‘oh, water ball’, and then I was watching the whole flight, and it was just short right of the green in the water on 16,” said the world No 3.

“From my perspective, I was a little further left than Daniel and, in my opinion I did not think the ball started very far left of the pin.

“It looked like it kind of started at the pin and then cut towards the end because the wind was also a little bit off the left.

He obviously thought that he started it way left of the pin and then he kind of cut hard at the end, but that's not what Joel [Dahmen, the third player in the group) and I saw.

“I'm not going to put words in Joel's mouth, but he was closer to Daniel's line, and we both saw the same thing, that it kind of started pretty close to the pin and then cut to the right at the end, therefore not really crossing all the way up there close to the green.

“We thought it was closer to the grass bunker there, just past it, and yeah, we had a little discussion about it.”

Hovland was asked if he felt it had been important to stand his ground. “Yeah, it's not a fun conversation,” he added.

“Daniel's game is great, and I have massive respect for him as a player. But, at the end of the day, we've got to protect the field and protect all the other guys.

“It's not a fun conversation, but when you strongly believe in something, you kind of have to stand your ground.

It ended up being somewhat of a compromise. He dropped a little bit further up than Joel and I kind of thought, but we ended up making a compromise, and that's where he hit it from.”

Did the pair speak about it after finishing the round? “Not really,” said Hovland. “We try to keep it professional. It's not like we're trying to dog on Daniel and trying to screw him over.

“It's just, that's what we believe, and he obviously felt strongly the other way. It's just what it is. I'm not accusing him of anything.

“The golf ball is in the air for a couple seconds, so it's tough to exactly pinpoint where it crossed and not. But Joel and I saw it in one way and he saw it differently.”

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