Viktor Hovland lands twin eagles in spectacular rally to win Hero World Challenge

Viktor Hovland lands twin eagles in spectacular rally to win Hero World Challenge
© Provided by The Times of India

NASSAU (BAHAMAS): When the third round of the 2021 Hero World Challenge ended it could safely be surmised that the Trophy was headed towards the house Collin Morikawa had taken up for the week. Less than 24 hours later, the Trophy did get to the house, but not with Morikawa, but came with Viktor Hovland, who flew on the wings of twin eagles and landed with the silverware.

Even as the focus has been on Morikawa – yes there was also Rory McIlroy at the start of the week, but he ended 18th among 20 players – Hovland, too, showed that he is just not a victor this week but a superstar in the making.

Giving a peek into the house he shared with Morikawa this week and spending time with him, Hovland said, “I mean, we don’t really talk that much about golf at night. He’s got his caddie, his now fiancée and I’ve got my caddie and trainer, so there’s a good amount of people in the house.”

“Yeah, obviously again I expected Collin to play a little better than he did today and I’m sure he did as well and he’s going to be a little upset with that. You know, he’s genuinely happy for me, and when he does well I couldn’t be happier for him. It’s a good friendship.”

Hovland (66) was 18-under, while Scottie Scheffler (66) was second at 17-under. Sam Burns (69) and Patrick Reed (69) were tied-third at 15-under and Morikawa and Justin Thomas (64) tied for fifth.

Hovland was reminded by Dr Pawan Munjal, Chairman and CEO of Hero MotoCorp, who with the host Tiger Woods gave away the Trophy, that it was Hovland’s second trophy from a Hero event. The first was a fun one – a six-man event Hero Challenge at the F-1 Race Track in Yas Links, Abu Dhabi. “Hero is probably your luxury charm,” said Munjal. Later, Hovland said, “He has a great memory, so he remembered that. And I remember saying after I won that thing, that was my first professional victory.”

Hovland reached 20-under, after gaining five shots between 14th and 16th to open a three-shot lead. That gave him so much space that he could afford bogeys on 17 and 18, a luxury indeed on a dramatic day when the fortunes swung in many directions.

On his ever-smiling demeanour, he revealed “It’s something I’ve had to work on a little bit. Golf is so frustrating…and it’s easy to get in the mindset of thinking you want to play perfect golf all the time.”

Morikawa could answer that. He played perfect golf for 54 holes and ran up a five-shot lead and it seemed he could do no wrong. Well, on Sunday, Morikawa gave away two double bogeys and another bogey to be 5-over for the front nine – the worst by any player for the front stretch this week. In contrast, Hovland hung around at 3-under for the front nine and then exploded on the back nine with back-to-back eagles. Scheffler worked hard with five birdies on back nine, but his triple on the fourth earlier on left him just one short.

Morikawa, thus, could neither win a fourth title in 2021 nor become World No. 1 this week. Instead, Hovland drew level with him at three successes in 2021.

But for now Hovland is the victor and got the trophy from Woods. He was the best amateur at the Masters in 2019 and confessed his knees were shaking seeing him seated next to the winner, Woods. On Sunday, Woods patted him and shook hands. All in just 30 months.

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