Hovland Rallies With 61, Beats Scheffler, Fitzpatrick by 2 in BMW Championship

Fifth-ranked Viktor Hovland of Norway simply chased down top-ranked Scottie Scheffler.

The 25-year-old Hovland shot a course-record nine-under-par 61, including a brilliant back nine, to beat Scheffler and 10th-ranked Matt Fitzpatrick of England by two strokes in the BMW Championship on the North Course at Olympia Fields Country Club outside Chicago.

Hovland rose to No. 2 in the FedEx Cup standings behind Scheffler and will be paired with him on Thursday in the first round of the Tour Championship, the final event of 2023 PGA Tour playoffs at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, where the FedEx Cup champion will be crowned.

Only the top 30 players in the point standings qualified for the finale at East Lake.

“I don’t have to think too long, that has to be the best round of golf I’ve ever played, especially given the circumstances,” said Hovland, who claimed his fifth victory on the PGA Tour and ninth as a professional. “The way I played the last nine holes was pretty special. I knew I had to start making birdies and to make seven of them there was pretty incredible.

“I knew I needed to make some birdies to even have a chance and I hit some good shots, got some nine bounces and the putts just started going in the hole. I was just trying to make up as much ground as I could and really didn’t start thinking about winning the tournament until near the end, when I made those birdies on the last two holes.

“It’s already been a good year with two victories, and I guess now it can get even better.”

Hovland, who won the Memorial Tournament in a playoff over Denny McCarthy in June, was four shots behind Scheffler at the start the back nine, but reeled off seven birdies on the last nine holes to shoot seven-under 28 and post a winning score of 17-under-par 263.

His 61, capped by a nine-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole and a seven-footer at the last,  broke the course record of 62 set by Max Homa in the second round this week and tied by Sam Burns in the third.

Scheffler, who was seeking his seventh PGA Tour victory in the last two years, made all six of his birdies on the first 13 holes before cooling off and finished at 66, while Fitzpatrick birdied three of the first six holes in his own 66.

Fitzpatrick and Scheffler started the final round tied for the lead.

“I’m just a bit frustrated,” said Scheffler, who basically ended the drama by making a bogey on the 17th hole. “I think that would be the way to describe it. I mean, Viktor went out and really just beat me today and played a fantastic round. I can hold my head high and just say I did my best out there today and fought hard. I just ultimately came up a couple shots short.”

Second-ranked Rory McIlroy, who claimed his record third FedEx Cup last year, made three late birdies to finish five shots back in solo fourth, while eighth-ranked Brian Harman, the 151st Open champion, birdied the 17th hole to shoot 69 and was one more down in a tie for fifth with the seventh-seeded Homa, from Valencia and Cal, who made three birdies in a 68.

Sungjae Im of South Korea had five birdies in a 66 and wound up seven down in solo seventh, while sixth-seeded Xander Schauffele of La Jolla and San Diego State made four birdies on the front nine in a 68 to finish eight behind in a tie for eighth with Russell Henley, was bogey-free until the last hole in a 63.

Tom Kim, the 21-year-old star from South Korea, birdied the last four holes in a bogey-free 63 and was 10 shots back in a tie for 10th with Harris English, who had three birdies in a row on the back nine in a 66; Andrew Putnam of Pepperdine, who birdied the last hole to cap a bogey-free 67; Corey Conners of Canada, who had three birdies on the back nine in his 69, and Denny McCarthy, who made three late birdies in a 70.

Fourth-ranked Patrick Cantlay of Los Alamitos and UCLA, birdied the last two holes for a 67 and finished in a tie for 15th that included reigning U.S. Open champion Wyndham Clark, who made four birdies in a 69, and Cameron Young, the 2021-22 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year, who had four birdies down the stretch in a 68.

Lucas Glover, who won the Wyndham Championship and FedEx Cup Championship the last two weeks, had two late birdies in a 70 to wind up in a tie for 22nd that included 2018 FedEx Cup champion Justin Rose of England, who didn’t make a birdie in his 73, while third-ranked Jon Rahm, the reigning Masters champion and FedEx Cup points leader at the start of the week, made four birdies in a 67.

On the bubble of the FedEx Cup point standings were No. 30 Sepp Straka of Austria, No. 29 Jordan Spieth, No. 28 Tyrrell Hatton of England, No. 27 Emiliano Grillo of Argentina, and No. 26 Sam Burns, who all qualified for the Tour Championship.

On the other side of the bubble, those who did not qualify include No. 31 Sahith Theegala of Chino Hills and Pepperdine, No 32 Chris Kirk, No. 33 Denny McCarthy, No. 34 Justin Rose of England, and No. 35 Andrew Putnam of Pepperdine.   

For complete results and the FedEx Cup standings, visit: https://www.pgatour.com/leaderboard   

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