Viktor Hovland rallies from six back to win Hero World Challenge
December 05, 2021
By The Associated Press
- December 05, 2021
Viktor Hovland captures win on 72nd hole at Hero
NASSAU, Bahamas — Viktor Hovland made consecutive eagles and closed with consecutive bogeys while overcoming a six-shot deficit to win the Hero World Challenge on Sunday and keep Collin Morikawa from reaching No. 1 in the world.
So wild was this final round of the year for golf's elite that Morikawa, who started the day with a five-shot lead, wasn't even a factor over the last hour at Albany Golf Club.
Hovland closed with a 6-under 66 in his debut at a holiday event that was filled with pure chaos involving eagles and triple bogeys, none more bizarre than Jordan Spieth and Henrik Stenson hitting their drives off the ninth tee from what was a new 17th tee for the final round.
“I didn't think a win was going to be very possible,” Hovland said. “But I know this course is tricky. You can make birdies, but it's easy to make bogeys and doubles. If I put a good score up there, you never know what's going to happen.”
Just about everything did.
Ultimately, this was about another 24-year-old star in the making adding to a big year. It just wasn't the one so many expected.
Morikawa, the Open champion, missed three birdie chances from 10 feet or closer at the start of the round and then went sideways with two shots into the bushes at Nos. 4 and 6 that led to double bogeys and a 41 on the front nine.
He closed with a 76 and tied for fifth. A victory would have made him the 25th player to reach No. 1 in the world since the ranking began in 1986. That still belongs to U.S. Open champion Jon Rahm, who didn't play this week.
Hovland was among five players who had at least a share of the lead at some point. That changed on the reachable par-4 14th for more than just Hovland.
First it was Sam Burns, a two-time winner this year who was tied for the lead when he put his tee shot just right of the green. Four times, with a fairway metal and a wedge, he hit up the slope and watched it roll back to his feet. He made triple bogey to fall back.
Next came Hovland, hitting his tee shot into a bunker. He blasted out and lightly pumped his fist when it dropped for an eagle. On the par-5 15th, Hovland hit his second shot with a breeze at his back to 20 feet and holed that for another eagle.
And he wasn't done. He dropped his approach to 3 feet for birdie on the 16th. That allowed him two bogeys at the end to finish at 18-under 270.
Scottie Scheffler narrowly missed a fifth straight birdie on the 18th hole. He shot 66 and finished one shot behind, ending a year in which he made a sterling Ryder Cup debut but still has yet to win on the PGA TOUR.
Scheffler started seven shots back. He made a triple bogey. And he nearly won.
Justin Thomas had a 64 to tie for fifth. Another shot back was Daniel Berger, who was right in the mix until starting the back nine with two bogeys, and then holing out with a full wedge for eagle from the 15th fairway.
Bryson DeChambeau finished his day with a triple bogey from the water. He was leading after 36 holes and finished in a tie for 14th in the 20-man field.
Spieth and Stenson were at the bottom of the pack all day, and they were assured of staying there when they walked back to where the ninth tee had been all week, not realizing that it was used as the tee for the par-3 17th hole and they should have been playing about 25 yards farther ahead. They had to replay the hole and add two shots to their score.
It was that kind of day, and the action never stopped until Tiger Woods — in a red shirt, of course — handed the trophy to the Norwegian. Hovland is the third straight international winner, following Henrik Stenson and Rahm.
He won for the third time this year, following victories in Mexico a month ago and Germany on the European Tour this summer.