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Winning the Tour Championship and FedEx Cup is not seen as desirable as winning a major or perhaps even The Players, but for Viktor Hovland, there is a certain public validation that comes with the $21.6 million he's collected in the last eight days. In a sports culture obsessed with winning -- even in a sport where it never happens -- taking the BMW Championship and Tour Championship in consecutive weeks is the forward-facing banner of a behind-the-scenes truth: Hovland has indisputably become one of the best golfers in the world.

After shooting a 61 last week in the BMW Championship finale to take that tournament, he scored a 63 in the final round this week when a 67 would have been enough. He downed runner-up Xander Schauffele by five strokes and beat the rest of the field by a comical margin of 11 strokes. In addition to the actual leaderboard -- where he started 8 under on the week boosted by his FedEx Cup standing entering the tournament -- Hovland also took down the shadow leaderboard -- fewest number of strokes taken -- used by the Official World Golf Rankings to determine the champion for points-scoring purposes.

For Hovland, it's his 10th OWGR victory in 117 starts. If that sounds like a lot, well, it's a lot. In just a few years, he finds himself winning at a clip (8.5%) that is just behind Jon Rahm (11.6%) and more or less tied with Rory McIlroy (8.5%). Those are currently the top three in the world. Obviously, Hovland has a ways to go before catching Rahm and McIlroy in total wins (those two have combined for 53 OWGR victories), but as far as company goes in the modern golf landscape, there's not much better.

What is visible of Hovland now as FedEx Cup champion has largely been true all year. One can observe his last two weeks and see something special, but if you looked closely enough, it was evident at the Masters (T7), PGA Championship (T2), U.S. Open (19th) and Open Championship (T13). He finished second this season in aggregate major score among players who made the cut at all four (only Scottie Scheffler beat him), and he won against three of the best fields of the season at the Memorial, the BMW Championship and now the Tour Championship.

The embarrassment of riches from these last two events will get the lion's share of attention, but those wins are simply a byproduct of somebody obsessed with the process.

"It's not like I'm expecting to win X amount of tournaments or to win X amount of majors," he said last week at the BMW Championship after his ridiculous 28 on the back nine to close the final round. "It's just, 'OK, this is as good as I am right now; what can I do to get better?' And if I get better, I have the chance of winning these events. Whatever happens, happens."

There is a difference between playing good golf and winning tournaments. The former normally leads to the latter but not always. Hovland has been quite good at golf from the moment he turned pro. Incredibly, his ball-striking numbers from 2019 are better than they were in 2023. So, the floor has always been high. You don't make 104 of your first 116 cuts any other way.

This year, he's raised the ceiling. He has improved his short game immensely and revamped his course management approach. In other words, he's better at getting up and down, and he does not put himself in situations where he has to get up and down from as difficult spots. This is a lethal combination and the perfect way for an elite ball-striker to become an elite champion.

This is reductive, but one could say that Hovland transformed himself from being a great hitter of the golf ball in years past (like, generationally great) to being a great golfer in 2023. (There is a such a massive difference between the two.)

And in doing so, he's played his way into the PGA Tour Player of the Year conversation. Throw his resume up against Rahm and Scheffler, and it's certainly going to be an interesting debate.

GolferJon RahmViktor HovlandScottie Scheffler









Top 10s




Major top 10s




Major wins100
Official money$16.5M$14.1M$21.0M

Whether Hovland wins the award or not is probably relevant to him but quite unimportant in the grand scheme.

What matters is that a guy who was once discussed as potentially being grouped among players like Rahm and Scheffler now exists truly in their company as a champion. Not a major champion quite yet -- though that is almost certainly forthcoming -- but rather somebody who wins, wins often and wins important events.

Viktor Hovland might not be the best player in the world ... but also, he might be.

Rick Gehman is joined by Kyle Porter, Patrick McDonald and Greg DuCharme to break down Viktor Hovland's clinical performance at the Tour Championship. He is the 2023 FedEx Cup Champion. Follow & listen to The First Cut on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.