Viktor Hovland wins Hero World Challenge after Collin Morikawa's Bahamas blow up
But that’s where his generosity ended and, as Morikawa suffered a surprise implosion in the final round, golf’s ‘Smiling Assassin’ moved in for the kill at Albany Golf Club in the Bahamas.
On a crazy day, Hovland came from six shots off the lead to land the title, signing off with a six-under 66 that included back-to-back eagles on the inward journey to win by a shot from equally fast-finisher Scottie Scheffler with an 18-under-par total.
Patrick Reed and Sam Burns finished a shot further back, with Morikawa, who had been on course to become the new world No 1 after 54 holes, sharing fifth spot with Justin Thomas (64) after signing off with a disappointing 76.
“After making a few pars early on, I didn't really think winning was even in question,” admitted Hovland of a fifth pro success that is set to lift him to seventh in the world rankings.
“But, after I made three birdies in a row at the end of the front nine and I got to No. 9 and I was in the greenside bunker and I looked up at the leaderboard and I saw I was tied for the lead, maybe one shot behind. That's when I knew that, okay, if I play really well on the back nine, I've got a chance.”
That chance got even bigger when he holed from a bunker for a 2 at the 14th then rolled in a good putt for his second eagle at the par-5 15th.
In a pivotal burst, he also birdied the 16th from close range and could afford dropped shots at the closing two holes as he landed his latest prize in front of tournament host Tiger Woods.
“Hell, yeah,” replied Hovland to being asked if it felt like a proper PGA Tour win as opposed to one that came in a field of just 20 players. “A Ws a W, I guess?
“There's only 20 guys in the field, but the players here are really good and I feel like my wins have come when the field hasn't been as strong, so for me to do well in a field like this gives me a lot of confidence.”
Hovland said Morikawa would be “a little upset” while “genuinely happy” for him at the same time due to their close friendship.
Asked if he’d been part of Morikawa’s engagement plan, he said, smiling: “He asked if he could get the master suite before we got here because he was going to propose, so I said that was a decent enough excuse to let him have it.”
Justin Rose closed with a 66 to share the honour of top British player with Tyrrell Hatton as they shared ninth spot on 11-under, one ahead of Matt Fitzpatrick.
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