Both Viktor Hovland and Collin Morikawa will be going for more than a win at the Valspar Championship at Innisbrook this weekend, as either could take over the world No. 1 ranking with a win in Florida.
Hovland can take the top spot from Jon Rahm – who is not in the field this week – with a win, while Morikawa can do so if he wins or finishes in no worse than a three-way tie for second.
Hovland, Morikawa playing together at Valspar Championship
Morikawa and Hovland will play together over the first two days, adding intrigue to their pairing in the early rounds.
“It would be huge,” Morikawa told reporters of the chance to get to No. 1 on the Official World Golf Ranking. “Anyone would love to get there and everyone would see the satisfaction in the work and everything you have put in. But whether I get there next week or whether I get there whenever or whether I don’t get there, the work is not going to stop because I feel I can still get better. I want to be the best in the world but that’s going to require a lot more consistency.”
Hovland is coming off some controversy at last week’s Players Championship. He denied Daniel Berger his preferred spot to drop after Berger hit his second shot into the water on the par-5 16th hole. Berger thought his ball should go further up the hole, while Hovland saw it cross into the penalty area earlier.
“It’s not a fun conversation,” Hovland said afterwards. “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.”
|Valspar Championship Odds (via DraftKings Sportsbook)
|Viktor Hovland: +900
|Justin Thomas: +900
|Collin Morikawa: +1200
|Louis Oosthuizen: +1600
|Xander Schauffele: +1600
|Sam Burns: +1800
|Dustin Johnson: +1800
|Matthew Fitzpatrick: +2200
|Jason Kokrak: +2200
|Tyrrell Hatton: +2500
Hovland comes into the Valspar Championship as the +900 co-favorite, according to DraftKings Sportsbook. Morikawa is the +1200 third choice on the board.
Thomas looks to get back to winning ways
Justin Thomas (+900) shares the favorite roll with Hovland this weekend. But,unlike the two other names at the top of the betting board, Thomas can’t jump to No. 1 in the world even with a win in the Valspar Championship. He finds himself in the No. 8 ranking, something he’s not particularly happy with.
“To be perfectly honest, it pissed me off where I am in the world ranking,” Thomas told reporters. “I clearly have not won very many golf tournaments in the last two years, year and a half, at least, from other parts of my career. But I’ve played some pretty damn good golf and it’s just, if you’re not winning tournaments you’re getting lapped right now and that’s just the way that it is.”
Hovland, Morikawa, and Thomas are part of a strong Valspar Championship field that features five of the world’s top 10 players. Louis Oosthuizen (+1600), Xander Schauffele (+1600), and Dustin Johnson (+1800) are among those who also have an excellent chance of contending for the title on the weekend.