by Fatiha Betscher, Albany, The Bahamas
Viktor Hovland was only 10-years old when tournament host Tiger Woods in 2007 successfully defended the Hero World Challenge and until Sunday, and in the 23rd hosting of the event, Woods was the only player to win the event two years in succession.
That statistic is now out the window after the now 25-year-old Hovland was handed the unique Tiger trophy for a second year running here at the Albany course in the Bahamas.
However, Hovland had to do it the hard way and after finding water with his second shot down the last hole, when leading by two shots at 17-under par he then holed a superb bogey putt in a round of 71 to still win by two shots at 16-under from Masters champ, Scottie Scheffler.
Scheffler had found the fairway down the last but then found a waste bunker right of the final green, leaving him a chip shot that hit the hole from where he two-putted, also in a bogey ‘5’ finish for his score of 68 and a 14-under tally.
It is also the second year in succession Hovland and Scheffler have finished one, two in the $US3m event.
But all credit to Hovland in capturing a seventh pro career success.
“It was friggin’ nerve-wracking out there as I was leading by five shots after the turn, and you’re never that comfortable,” he said. “I didn’t play all that great on the back nine but it was good enough to win.
“I knew in playing that 6-iron second down the last from the side of the bunker that it would go high, and I got a flyer so I figured if I could hit it pretty far right then I would be okay but I have been struggling with clubface shutting a little bit, so it went left but it was a good result in the end.
“Of course, you still have to play your best to win and to win this event for a second time is amazing.
“And to have my name now on Tiger’s trophy again is pretty amazing. It’s an amazing event and there were a lot of people here today. So, it’s just a cool atmosphere and to win his tournament is very special.
“The thing is with the short pro career I’ve had, I tend to play very well early in the year and later in the year, so my next goal is to keep on playing like this throughout the year. It’s fun to end the year with a win and kind of now sit on the couch for a couple of weeks with a smile on your face.”
Of special note, it’s also the third occasion the Norwegian-born golfing sensation has stood alongside Woods at a prize presentation – twice now at the Hero World Challenge and firstly at the 2019 Masters when Hovland, as the Low Amateur, was inside the famed Butler Cabin as Woods was being fitted with a fifth Masters green jacket.
And Hovland has now tasted success in five different countries, Puerto Rico, Mexico (twice), Germany, Bahamas (twice) and also the UAE, though he’s yet to win on US soil.
As well, and if you were looking for a European Ryder Cup line, Hovland’s win comes the same day, albeit being Monday morning in Australia, that another European in Poland’s Adrian Meronk captured the co-sanctioned Australian Open, also his second success this year.
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