Inside Viktor Hovland's crazy final hole that ended with another Hero title




 

"Go hard!"

"Oh my, God."

"Wow."

"In the water."

Moments before he again lifted the tiger-topped trophy at Tiger Woods' tournament, Viktor Hovland played the role of narrator on Sunday evening in the Bahamas as his bid for a second straight Hero World Challenge title appeared to be sinking fast left of Albany's 18th green.

Hovland led playing competitor Scottie Scheffler by two shots, at 17 under, as each player teed off on the par-4 finishing hole. Hovland's tee ball ended up in an awkward lie in the right rough, just past a fairway bunker.

But instead of laying up, Hovland, fittingly, went for the hero shot.

He didn't pull it off.

Hovland's approach hooked left of the green, hit some rocks and splashed into the water. Suddenly, Scheffler had life; the reigning Masters champion, with a chance to return to world No. 1 with a win, flew the green with his second shot as Hovland followed by dropping and wedging his fourth shot from about 120 yards to 25 feet.

If Hovland missed his bogey putt and Scheffler got up and down for par, there would be a playoff.

"Not many positive thoughts," Hovland said of what was going through his head at that moment.

"You're standing there with a two-shot lead, it's like, that's the last thing you can do," Hovland added. "Basically just do anything else but hit it in the water on the second shot. So, as soon as that happened, I was pretty frustrated. But I knew that he didn't have a gimme par, so if I can wedge up there close, I can still make a putt and win the tournament. And if not, he still has to make a par to force me to a playoff.

"But it was a lot more stressful than it should have been."

Especially after Scheffler nearly chipped in for birdie, his ball catching the lip. But before Scheffler could attempt his par save, Hovland ended the threat.

He calmly, at least on the outside, buried the tournament-winner.

"To be honest, this was kind of a stressful week just being in contention from the get-go and even having a five-shot lead at the turn with nine holes to play," Hovland said. "It's five shots, it's hard to mess that up, but you see how close it can get on the final hole, so you just always have to hit the next shot, you can't relax. As soon as you do, boom, that's a bogey. Suddenly Scottie makes a birdie and he's right back there.

"Yeah, it takes a lot out of you and I'm pretty tired."

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