Viktor Hovland became the first player from Norway to win the United States Amateur Championship, and Devon Bling of Ridgecrest almost never had a chance in the scheduled 36-hole final.
Hovland, who claimed the Havemeyer Trophy, rolled to a 5-up lead after 11 holes during the morning round and coasted to a 6-and-5 victory over Bling in the 118th national amateur championship at Pebble Beach Golf Links.
It was the second-largest margin of victory in the final, behind only the 7-and-6 whipping Bryson DeChambeau of Clovis put on Derek Bard in 2015 at Olympic Fields Country Club outside Chicago.
“(The week) is like a blur,” said Hovland, a 20-year-old from Oslo who is a junior at Oklahoma State and helped the Cowboys win the NCAA Championship last spring. “I wasn’t playing that well coming up, but I found something early in the week and just sent from there.
“I’ve got two more years of college and I have a lot to learn. … If I can follow in the footsteps of Tiger (Woods) and the other guys who have won this, for even a few steps, it will be more than I can ask for.”
Bling, a sophomore from UCLA, won the 17th hole in the morning with a birdie to narrow his deficit to 4 down, but Hovland got that one back with a birdie on the first hole of the afternoon and maintained he lead with steady play.
After Bling again got to within 4 down with a birdie on the 27th hole, Hovland increased his lead by winning the 29th and 30th to go dormie. When Bling missed a 25-foot birdie putt to halve the 31st hole, it was over.
“I’m disappointed, but I gave it my all,” said Bling, a two-time champion of the China Lake Golf Club Men’s Championship who holds the course record of 59. “You just have to give it to Victor, he played so well and he deserves it.
“This isn’t the end for me, it’s just the beginning.”
Woods won the U.S. Open a record three straight times (1994-96) and others to win the title include Bobby Jones (five times), Jack Nicklaus (1959, 1961), Francis Ouimet (1914, 1931), Arnold Palmer, Phil Mickelson, Gene Littler, Justin Leonard, Mark O’Meara and Craig Stadler.
For complete results, visit http://www.usga.org/content/usga/home-page/championships/2018/u-s–amateur.html#!scoring