Seventh-ranked Viktor Hovland stepped up to take command when second-ranked Collin Morikawa faltered in his bid to take the No. 1 spot in the World Golf Rankings.
The 24-year-old Hovland came from six strokes behind in the final round by shooting 6-under-par 66 to claim a one-stroke victory over Scottie Scheffler in the 22nd edition of the Hero World Challenge at Albany Golf Club in New Providence, The Bahamas.
Hovland received the trophy from tournament host Tiger Woods, whose event was not played last year because of the Coronavirus Pandemic.
“When I first teed off and obviously got off to just making a few pars early on, I didn’t really think winning was even in question,” Hovland said after claiming his fifth pro victory, including a second in a row after successfully defending title in the Mayakoba Golf Classic in November. “I looked at the scoreboard on the ninth hole and I believe I was tied for the lead, maybe one shot behind or something like that. That’s when I knew that, OK, ‘If I play really well on the back nine, I’ve got a chance.’
“Just playing the PGA Tour is pretty incredible, just from thinking back to where I grew up and playing golf in Norway, you’re playing golf six months out of the year and it’s pretty far-fetched to even just play golf professionally coming from Norway.
“So, for me to be here and winning tournaments is pretty unreal.”
Hovland, who played college golf at Oklahoma State and won the 2018 U.S. Amateur Championship, made consecutive eagles on the 14th and 15th holes to take the lead, collected five birdies and survived bogeys on the last two holes to record a winning score of 18-under 270.
No. 11 Scheffler, who made a triple bogey on the fourth hole, birdied six of the last eight holes in his own 68 to grab second, while No. 13 Sam Burns eagled the 15th hole in a 69 to finish three shots back in a tie for third with No. 25 Patrick Reed, who also had a 69.
“I felt like I played pretty well,” said Scheffler, who was a U.S. star in the Ryder Cup but has yet to win on the PA Tour. “I had really struggled with my putting pretty much the whole week until maybe the back nine yesterday, made a few putts.
“Outside of that, the first two days I putted so bad, so today just to see a few go in and kind of get going was nice and felt like I gave myself a chance there at the end and I’m pleased with that. I’m pleased with how I performed on the back nine.”
The second-ranked Morikawa made double bogeys on the fourth and sixth holes while shooting 5-over 41 on the front nine and struggled to a 75 that left him four down in a tie for fourth with sixth-ranked Justin Thomas, who eagled the third and birdied three of the last four in a 64.
No. 19 Daniel Berger eagled the 15th hole in a 71 and was five strokes behind in a tie for seventh with No. 12 Tony Finau, who also shot 71, while Justin Rose of England eagled No. 15 in a 66 and was seven shots behind in a tie for ninth with No. 15 Brooks Koepka, who stumbled to a 74, and No. 22 Tyrrell Hatton of England, who came at 70 with a triple bogey on the sixth and an eagle on the ninth.
Fourth-ranked Xander Schauffele of La Jolla and San Diego State tied for 12th after making four late birdies in a 68, eight-ranked Bryson DeChambeau of Clovis struggled to a 74 and tied for 14th, and ninth-ranked Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland eagled No. 15 and was 18th following a 70.
Henrik Stenson of Sweden, the 2019 Hero World Challenge champion, was 19th after a 72, and No. 14 Jordan Spieth made two triple bogeys and a double bogey in a 76 that left him last in the 20-player field.
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