ASSAU, Bahamas (Reuters) — Collin Morikawa’s predicted stroll to the Hero World Challenge championship and No. 1 world ranking on Sunday got off to a rocky start.
Then all kinds of craziness erupted around Albany Golf Club.
When the final round’s eagles, birdies, doubles, and triples were added up, tropical paradise monster Viktor Hovland was presented with the trophy by tournament host Tiger Woods.
The Norwegian, who had won three of his previous four professional titles in Puerto Rico and Playa del Carmen, Mexico (where he had won twice), hit successive eagles on the back nine and rallied from a six-shot deficit at the start of the round to win by one shot in the 20-man field.
Hovland finished on 18 under par, one shot ahead of Scottie Scheffler, with a 6-under-par 66. (66). Patrick Reed (69) and Sam Burns (70) tied for 15th place (69).
Morikawa finished on 14 under par with a 76. Justin Thomas was there as well, shooting a Sunday 64 to commemorate his favorite Alabama Crimson Tide’s SEC Championship victory over Georgia on Saturday.
In the final round, five players had a share of the lead.
“Honestly, I didn’t think winning was even in question when I first teed off and obviously got off to just making a few pars early on,” said Hovland, whose hole-out eagle from the bunker on the drivable par-4 14th was his third huge bird on the hole throughout the week.
His third eagle of the week at No. 14. 👀
Viktor Hovland holes it from the bunker. pic.twitter.com/rPqCwwbMiH
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) December 5, 2021
“But after I made three birdies in a row at the end of the front nine, and I was in the greenside bunker on No. 9, and I looked up at the leaderboard and saw I was tied for the lead, maybe one shot behind or something like that, that’s when I realized, OK, if I play really well on the back nine, I’ve got a chance.”
Now, let’s talk about those upcoming victories in the tropics.
“There aren’t that many similarities to Norway,” Hovland added, “so I don’t really get it.” “I think hitting it straight helps since there’s usually difficulties off the tee.” But, to be honest, the grass here, Paspalum and Bermuda, isn’t something I’m used to, so I’m not sure.
“For some reason, I always seem to do well in those situations.”
In the Bahamas this week, Hovland shared a room with Morikawa, which was ironic. Morikawa, who would have become the second-fastest player to reach world No. 1 if he won (Woods is the fastest), led by five strokes at the start of the round but had lost all of his advantage by the time he reached the sixth hole green.
Morikawa, who won his second major in the British Open earlier this year and became the first American to win the Race to Dubai two weeks ago, lost a ball in the bushes on his approach to the par-4 fourth and made double bogey, then lost another ball on his approach to the par-5 sixth and made double bogey. On the front nine, he shot a stunning 41.
“Obviously a little disappointed to see him not play his best today,” Hovland expressed his disappointment. “He’s a terrific player, and I anticipated him to easily coast to victory, but this sport isn’t always that simple, and I’m confident he’ll come back even better.”
Morikawa got engaged to Katherine Zhu on Tuesday, so not everything was lost this week.
Scheffler, who was seeking his first PGA Tour victory, began the day seven strokes adrift and triple-bogeyed the fourth hole before storming home with four birdies in his final five holes.
“I thought I did quite well.” He added, “I had been struggling with my putting pretty much the entire week until maybe the back nine yesterday, when I made a couple putts.” “Aside from that, I putted so badly the first two days, so just seeing a few go in and get rolling today was wonderful, and I felt like I gave myself a chance there at the finish, and I’m happy with that.” “I’m happy with how I played the back nine.”
Hovland, 24, will be ranked eighth in the world. He’s still amazed that a Norwegian child can have so much success on the PGA Tour; Hovland was the first Norwegian to win on the tour.
He said, “It’s crazy to believe that I’m playing on the PGA Tour.” “Just looking back to where I grew up and playing golf in Norway, when you’re playing golf six months out of the year, it’s pretty far-fetched to even play golf professionally coming from Norway.” So it’s extremely surreal for me to be here and win tournaments.”
Tiger Woods, on the other hand, was an inspiration to him.
“I remember sitting in class and simply watching YouTube highlights. He undoubtedly inspired and aided me in that manner, but watching his highlights made it seem even more improbable since, hopefully, you’ll be fighting against him when you get on Tour,” he added. “It was more like I made it into a nightmare.”