Viktor Hovland survived the late jitters to claim the Hero World Challenge (HWC) at Albany here.
Entering the final hole of the tournament with a two shot lead over Scottie Scheffler, Hovland looked comfortable. An approach into the water, however, opened the door for Scheffler.
Scheffler would have made things interesting if he holed a chip from the sandy area. He nearly pulled it off - the ball lipped out.
Norwegian Hovland, meanwhile, made a 20-foot putt to card a bogey and win the title.
Hovland became the second man, after Tiger Woods, to win back-to-back HWC titles. Hovland took the winner’s purse of $1 million.
“When you’re standing there with a two-shot lead, it’s the last thing you want. Just do anything else but hit it in the water. So as soon as that happened, I was pretty frustrated. It was a lot more stressful than it should have been,” Hovland said.
On Norway producing world-class sportspersons, Hovland said, “We only have five, six million people, but it seems like when Magnus Carlsen is winning, everyone tunes in and starts playing chess. Erling Haaland’s been incredible; the same with Casper Ruud in tennis. People love their sports. They root for their fellow countrymen when they do something well.”
Scheffler, who would have climbed to the top of world ranking had he won the tournament, said, “I said earlier in the week that I don’t like finishing second. It’s not a good feeling right now. But I’m proud of the fight.”
The scores (top five)
272: Viktor Hovland (69, 70, 64,69); 274: Scottie Scheffler (72, 68, 66, 68); 276: Cameron Young (71, 69, 68, 68); 277: Xander Schauffele (72, 68, 69, 68); 278: Justin Thomas (72, 70, 66,70).
(The author is in Nassau on invitation from Hero MotoCorp)