Viktor Hovland
Viktor Hovland is the reigning champion of the Desert Classic Image Credit: WAM

Albany, Bahamas

Viktor Hovland, the reigning champion of Dubai Desert Classic, admitted to being a “terrible planner”, but that has got nothing to do with his struggle to schedule his title defence in Dubai next year.

The Norwegian said he was “still undecided” on making the trip to Dubai in a year in which he needs to incorporate the mandatory elevated events on the PGA Tour, and then weave in the added commitment to DP World Tour in a Ryder Cup year.

“You know, still haven’t made my decision there, but it’s just looking at this schedule and with the amount of traveling, it’s something that doesn’t look too great. But we’ll see what happens,” said Hovland, the world No12, before his title defence at the Hero World Challenge.

In January this year, Hovland was nowhere in the reckoning on the back nine of the Majlis course on Sunday, before a birdie-eagle-birdie finish catapulted him into a play-off. He then beat Richard Bland with a birdie on the first extra hole.

The main reason for Hovland’s inability to commit himself to the $9 million Rolex Series event, scheduled for January 26-29, is the new rule on the PGA Tour regarding the elevated events – the 13 new $20 million tournaments which will become mandatory for the top stars to attend. Players can skip only one of these elevated events and combined with the four majors and the three non-elevated events that they have to play, it means almost 20-week commitment to the PGA Tour.

Hovland said he understands the new scheduling is an attempt to make the PGA Tour a better product, but added: “With the schedule being as dense as it is, it’s going to be tough to play all those events. I think in a singular year you can make that work easy, but I hope the future of my career is not going to be scheduled in that way where I’m basically forced to play 23, 24 or 25 events a year.

“Now, I might do that in a certain year. But, being essentially forced to do so is not how I would like to have my career look in the future.

“People that know me well, they know that I’m a terrible planner and that probably drives them insane because I won’t really give them a straight up answer as to what I’m going to do tomorrow or next week. If I feel like I’m playing great, I can go out there and play four weeks in a row, no problem. But if I don’t feel like I have my A game, I do not want to be at a golf tournament, I just want to go home and work on it until I feel like I’m in a good spot again.

“That’s why the freedom is pretty important to me.”

Hovland felt the scheduling will also affect the way he prepares for major championships.

“Some guys like to play a lot before a major, some guys don’t like to play a lot before a major and it is very subjective,” he added.

“I’ve kind of taken a week off before majors and although I’d like to play better in the majors, I think statistically it has shown that I usually play better the first week coming back from a little bit of a break.

“That’s how I like to set up my schedule a little bit. But obviously if you're forced to play a number of times, you might not have the freedom to pick a schedule like that.”