Hovland is using them as well as anyone at the moment, coming off victories in his last two starts in Mexico and the Bahamas, elevating the former Oklahoma State star to No. 7 in the world ranking.
He went back to Stillwater, Oklahoma, for a few days after winning the Hero World Challenge, headed home for the holidays and left Oslo on Dec. 29, eager to get started.
After a layover in Paris, he landed in Seattle, and that’s where the problems started.
“My duffel bag and my mom’s duffel bag was there, but we waited 30 minutes for my golf bag and it didn’t show up,” Hovland said. “They said they sent it through Salt Lake City, apparently.”
The search took enough time that he missed his connecting flight to Maui and had to switch to another airline to arrive later that night after more than 24 hours of travel. This time, his other luggage had gone missing.
The clothes arrived the next day. As for the golf bag? That either was never in Salt Lake City or it was shipped back to Seattle after Hovland was long gone.
“It seemed the golf bag was just somehow sitting in Seattle for five straight days,” Hovland said. “I was concerned they lost it initially. And then after a couple of days, they said they physically had it. That got me more frustrated. If you can see the bag, it shouldn’t be that hard to put it on the flight.”
So instead of getting back to work, Hovland was back on vacation. He went to the gym and to the beach. He did manage to play a little golf, using the clubs of caddie Shay Knight.
“It wasn’t ideal, but at least when you haven’t hit balls, the main thing is to just kind of get a feel for it,” Hovland said.
Arizona-based Ping sent him a new set of irons that were supposed to arrive on Tuesday, except Hovland said they were stuck in rain-soaked Honolulu.
“Oh, well,” he said. “We got the bag.”
True. But it was in tatters, and one of the clubs was broken. At least that was his back-up driver that he had no intention of using.
The driver he uses wasn’t even his, anyway.
Danny Lee accidentally shattered the shaft on Hovland’s driver in Mayakoba during a speed training drill in November. Turns out James Hahn used the same driver as Hovland and gave it to him for the week. Hovland wound up winning, and that’s now his main driver.
So maybe another equipment issue might work in his favor at Kapalua.
“It’s a little different case because I was playing pretty good and then testing James’ driver, it was really good. I’m still playing that driver,” Hovland said. “It’s a little different this week, but I’m getting better every day.
“But it’s not ideal that I have to spend these couple of days to try to get back into things and find my swing.”