Hovland hits new heights with Mayakoba victory

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Viktor Hovland celebrates with the winner's trophy on the 18th green after the final round of the Mayakoba Golf Classic (Photo by Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images)

Viktor Hovland has reached a career-high ranking of 15th on the world golf charts after he birdied the 72nd hole to claim his second PGA Tour title at the Mayakoba Golf Classic.

Playing at the site of his PGA Tour debut in 2018, the Norwegian fired a stunning six-under par round of 65, including a clutch birdie at the final hole, to reach 20-under par for the tournament and win by a shot from Aaron Wise. Up to third on the early FedEx Cup standings with the win, it is the second time Hovland has birdied the last obstacle to claim victory on the PGA Tour.

“I was pretty nervous throughout the day even though I hit a lot of good shots and made some birdies,” he reflected. “Got off to a nice start so that was helpful. But after — after the missed putt on 15 and hit a really bad second shot into 16, however made a nice up-and-down there to kind of keep it alive, you know.

“Had a decent chance on 17 that I missed. So 18, even though it’s — it was like 10, 11, 12 feet, you know, it was a tough putt and it had a lot of break on it. I was just trying to match the speed with the line, and at that time it ended up going in. So it was just one of those times where it just happened to go in.”

Two years on from earning an exemption into the same tournament in Mexico on debut, Hovland, who’s looking likely to be a key player on Padraig Harrington’s European Ryder Cup team next year, was savouring how far his game has come in such a short space of time.

“I was lucky enough to get an exemption here in 2018, first PGA Tour event,” he recalled. “I was really nervous, maybe even more nervous than I was making that putt on 18. I missed the cut by a shot there. The next year I come back, first time as a pro, missed the cut by a shot. So it’s nice to come back here the third time and get the win to kind of get some revenge for the first two times.

“It’s just a great resort. Even though I missed the cut my first two times, I had a blast being here. The hotels are amazing, the weather’s usually amazing, the course is great, the food is awesome, you’re on the beach, you’re hanging out. It’s really one of my favourite spots and to play here for the first time as an amateur on the PGA TOUR and to then win it later, I think that’s pretty cool.”

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