A horror final round for Collin Morikawa allowed Viktor Hovland to grab the Hero World Challenge title, at Albany Golf Course here on Sunday.
Morikawa, who started the day with a five-shot lead, returned an abysmal four-over 76 to finish tied-fifth. Morikawa could have become the top-ranked golfer in the world had he won the trophy.
Havland, who won his third tournament of the year, was happy to pick up the pieces. He surged ahead with eagles on the 14th and 15th holes.
The Norwegian holed a bunker shot on the 14th, and made a long putt on the next hole to place one hand on the trophy.
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“When I first teed off, I didn’t think winning was even in question. But after I made three birdies in a row at the end of the front nine, I looked at the leaderboard and saw I was tied for the lead or maybe one shot behind. That’s when I knew that I had a chance if I played well,” Havland said.
Havland, 24, earned $1 million from a total purse of $3.5 million. He thanked former Norwegian pro Henrik Bjørnstad for inspiring him to dream big.
“I took a lot of inspiration and motivation from Henry Bjornstad, who is Norway’s first player on the PGA Tour. I was lucky that he did some work for our federation when I was growing up. I was about 13 or 14 when I got to pick his brain a little bit. It’s not often that junior golfers in Norway get to speak with a PGA Tour. That bridged the gap a little bit,” Havland said.
Morikawa lost his way with double bogeys on the 4th and 6th holes, and could not recover.
The day started with a bizarre incident, when the first group of Henrik Stenson and Jordan Spieth were penalised two shots each for playing the wrong tee. The duo hit their tee shot from the 17th hole, believing it to be the 9th hole. The tee positions were reshuffled for the final round.
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Both Stenson and Spieth saw the funny side of it in the media interaction. “They switched things around and put 17th on the 9th tee box today, and 9th was in a different place. Being first out, we didn’t pay attention and just motored along. It was only two shots each, so it wasn’t a big deal,” Stenson said.
Stenson and Spieth, both never in contention, finished at the bottom of the leaderboard.
SCORES (top five):
270: Viktor Hovland (68, 69, 67, 66);
271: Scottie Scheffler (71, 68, 66, 66);
273: Sam Burns (71, 65, 68, 69), Patrick Reed (68, 69, 67, 69);
274: Justin Thomas (67, 72, 71, 64), Collin Morikawa (68, 66, 64, 76).
(The writer is in Nassau on invitation from Hero MotoCorp)