Back-to-back eagle shots on holes 14 and 15 by Viktor Hovland, of Norway, was instrumental in helping him complete a comeback victory, enabling to lift the trophy at the 2021 Hero World Challenge that wrapped up yesterday afternoon at the Albany Golf Course in southwestern New Providence, The Bahamas.
Hovland came into the day six strokes behind third round leader Colin Morikawa, of the United States. He finished 18 strokes
under par 270 at the end of the four rounds of competition.
“I didn’t think a win was going to be possible, but I know this course is tricky,” Hovland said. “You can make birdies, but it’s easy to make bogeys and doubles. If I put a good score up there, you never know what’s going to happen.”
Hovland began yesterday with five straight even pars.
“Yeah, honestly, when I first teed off and obviously got off to just making a few pars early on, I didn’t really think winning was even in question, but after I made three birdies in a row at the end of the front nine, I saw that I had a chance. I was in the greenside bunker and I looked up at the leaderboard and I saw I believe I was tied for the lead, maybe one shot behind or something like that, that’s when I knew that, okay, if I play really well on the back nine, I’ve got a chance,” Hovland said.
This was Hovland’s debut at the tournament at Albany and his fourth win at a tropical paradise like The Bahamas.
“Yeah, there’s not that many similarities to Norway, so I don’t really get it myself, but yeah, I don’t know. Usually there’s trouble off the tee and you’ve got to hit it straight, I think that helps, but frankly, the grass here, the Paspalum and the Bermuda, is not something that I’m very used to, so I don’t know. For some reason I just played well here,” Hovland said.
The Norwegian sank three straight birdies on holes six, seven and eight to warm up for the back nine. He got a birdie on hole 11 then bogeyed hole 12. He stole the show with a shot from the bunker on hole 14 that went straight into the hole to give him an eagle and he pumped his fist. He was five-under par for the day at that point.
“The bunker shot on 14 was not very easy,” Hovland said. “The ball was sitting down and I was contemplating hitting more out to the right so I would give myself more green, because if it comes out dead with no spin, it’s rolling off the green. I decided to just give it some extra speed, which has kind of been one of the things I’ve been struggling with around the greens. If it’s a high-pressure situation, I tend to hit it soft and kind of, you know, put it more instead of going for the open face and hit it hard, and I decided to do that there and it worked out.”
Not even back-to-back bogeys on holes 17 and 18 could have prevented the 24-year-old from coming out on top as he was eight-under par at that point.
Overall, the tournament was a very competitive one that was expected with 20 of the world’s top golfers teeing off. There was a different leader after each of the four rounds.
Finishing second was American Scottie Scheffler who finished one stroke behind at 17-under par 271 after he shot six-under par in the fourth round.
There was a two-way tie for third place as Americans Sam Burns and Patrick Reed both finished 15-under par 273. Both golfers finished the fourth round three-under par on Sunday.
Morikawa finished four-over par in round four and fell out of the top three. He finished fifth overall. His double bogeys on holes four and six seemed to kill his momentum. He bogeyed hole number nine to finish the front nine five-over par.
Tournament host Tiger Woods, who Hovland grew up watching playing golf, was on hand to present him with the trophy. Woods did not play in this year’s tournament as he is still recovering from last year’s horrific vehicle accident.