What a difference a few days make. Despite a slow start to the year, Viktor Hovland was certainly considered among the potential contenders coming into the 2024 Masters. The not-long-ago World No. 4 finished T-7 a year ago and had made four straight Augusta National cuts heading into the year’s first major. And he got off to a solid start with an opening-round 71.

That, however, was about as good as it would get.

When the sun had set on Friday, the 26-year-old finished at eight over for the tournament, missing the Masters cut for the first time in his career. A nine-over 81 on Friday—when he went seven over on the first five holes—left Hovland humbled and flustered. The usual fleet-footed, happy-go-lucky golfer couldn’t make things work at Augusta and obviously was frustrated by the missed opportunity.

Not only will he not be teeing off this weekend; Hovland has decided to withdraw from the upcoming RBC Heritage at Harbour Town, one of the PGA Tour’s signature events.

If you’re looking for a microcosm of Hovland’s second round, you don’t have to go any further than above tap-in gaffe on the par-5 15th. “Oh no. He’s just completely lost it,” said former major champion Rich Beem on Sky Sports, as Hovland tossed the ball into the water not long after the putt.

Hovland barely missed out on sneaking to the six-over cut line, but that missed putt and his inability to gain any momentum forced him out for the final 36 holes. That’s nearly $45k he lost for not making it on the number.

The Norwegian has slipped from World No. 4 to No. 6 over the last few months due to his down play and has been testing things out with different swing coaches to try to get back on track. He was recently seen with Dana Dahlquist, one of Golf Digest’s top teachers, at the Augusta practice green earlier this week.

“I’m still kind of looking for some opinions out there, but I feel like I’m on a good track right now and we’ll see where that takes us,” Hovland said heading into the Masters. “It’s one of those things. I was playing great golf last year, but it’s not like I’m trying to change my golf swing.

“I had to find my way back to where I think I’m going to play my best golf. Even at the end of the last year, I still felt like, yeah, I was playing great, but I got a lot out of my game, and it didn’t necessarily feel sustainable. But it’s not like I consciously went in and said, hey, we’re going to change everything up.”

At the Arnold Palmer Invitational, back in March, Hovland admitted that he would rather practice when things are getting tough instead of trying to figure things out in the middle of a tournament. Perhaps that’s why he’s passing on the RBC Heritage.

“It’s been a little bit frustrating so far this year,” Hovland said. “Feel like my swing hasn’t been quite as good as it has been in previous years, so it’s been, felt like I’ve tried to prioritize just being home and practising, putting a lot of work in. Don’t really want to fight through something while playing, it’s just not that fun, and I don’t see the point of it. Just been prioritizing time at home and, yeah, just taking care of the fundamentals.”

Image: Jamie Squire