Hovland’s 63 Beats Schauffle by 5 Shots to Win Tour Championship, FedEx Cup

Fifth-ranked Viktor Hovland of Norway won for the third time in his last eight starts, but it wasn’t quite as easy as it might seem on the surface.

The 25-year-old Hovland shot a bogey-free, seven-under-par 63 in the final round to beat sixth-ranked Xander Schauffele of La Jolla and San Diego State by five strokes to capture the 38th Tour Championship and claim the FedEx Cup at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta.

“It’s pretty surreal to be standing here with this trophy right now,” said Hovland, who started the last round with a six-stroke lead over Schauffele and also won the second PGA Tour playoff event by closing with a 61 last week in the BMW Championship. “I’ve just played my best golf in the last two weeks, and it couldn’t have happened at a better time. My team and I have worked so hard recently.

“At the beginning of the day, I was just concentrating on hitting the middle of the greens and making pars, but then Xander was playing so well and making birdies that I had to change my tactics and start trying to make some birdies myself, because he was getting so close to catching me.

“Of course, the biggest shot was the par I made at No. 14, because it’s a lot different leading by three strokes instead of only two with four holes to play. So, I just relaxed after that and just let it happen.”

Hovland, who also won the Memorial Tournament in June and accepted the trophy from the great Jack Nicklaus, made four birdies on the front nine and also birdied the last three holes to finish at 27-under-par, including the seven strokes he was given at the start of the week for his place in the FedEx Cup standings.

However, Hovland’s biggest shot was a 23-foot par putt on the 14th hole that kept him three shots ahead of Schauffele with four holes to play.

Schauffele, who won the 2017 Tour Championship before the winner automatically claimed the FedEx Cup, birdied five of the first eight holes and added three more birdies on the back nine in his bogey-free 62.

“I thought 62 would have let me get close to him,” said Schauffele, the 2021 Olympic Gold Medalist. “He played unbelievably well. He made important putts and he’s just played like a champ the last two weeks.

“I’ll hold my head up high. It was the most fun I had losing in quite some time. It’s such a weird feeling. I shot 62 and I lost by five. Just kudos to Hovi. He played unbelievably well the last few weeks to get himself into this position and to really just put a cherry on top for himself and his team.”

Wyndham Clark, the reigning U.S. Open champion, birdied two of the last three holes for a 65 and finished 11 strokes back in solo third, followed by second-ranked Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, who claimed his record third FedEx Cup last year and this time closed with a 65 by making five birdies on the back nine to wind up 13 back in fourth, while fourth-ranked Patrick Cantlay of Los Alamitos and UCLA, the 2021 FedEx Cup champ, was one more down in fifth by making a birdie on the last hole for a 66.

Top-ranked Scottie Scheffler birdied the last hole to salvage a 70 and finished 16 strokes behind in a tie for sixth with Tommy Fleetwood if England, who had two birdies on each nine in a bogey-free 66, and Collin Morikawa of La Canada Flintridge and Cal, who birdied the last hole to salvage a 72.

Seventh-ranked Max Homa of Valencia and Cal made three birdies on the back nine in a 68 to wind up 17 shots behind in a tie for ninth with eighth-ranked Matt Fitzpatrick of England, who birdied the last two holes for another 68, Sam Burns, who had two birdies on each nine in a 67, Adam Schenk, who holed his second shot from 137 yards on third hole for an eagle in his second straight 69, and Keegan Bradley, the 2011 PGA champion, who birdied the last hole for a 73.

Third-ranked Jon Rahm of Spain, the reigning Masters champion, made two early birdies but struggled the rest of the way in a 74 to tie for 18th.

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