Viktor Hovland recovers from possible collapse to defend Hero World Challenge

Much debate surrounds the competitive validity of the Hero World Challenge, at which a field of 20 receive hefty world ranking points, but the 2022 version at least delivered a compelling finish.

Viktor Hovland recovered from the position of possible collapse to see off Scottie Scheffler and become the second player, after Tiger Woods, to defend this trophy successfully.

Scheffler was denied in his bid to return to the summit of the world rankings. Woods, the tournament host, looked on from a golf cart as he continues to battle plantar fasciitis.

Drama was reserved for the 72nd hole. Hovland approached the 18th tee at Albany with a two-shot lead but watched his drive bound through a bunker and on to a grass ledge. From there the Norwegian wildly hooked his second into water. Scheffler sensed opportunity – a par versus a Hovland double bogey would force a playoff – but found a greenside bunker with his approach.

Hovland recovered his composure to slam home a 20ft putt for bogey, leaving Scheffler beaten before he tapped in for the same score. Sixteen under par beat 14 under.

“It’s nerve-racking,” the 25‑year‑old Hovland said of attempting to cross the line. “You are never that comfortable. These are some of the best 20 guys in the world, so you still have to play your best to win. To win Tiger’s tournament again is very special.”

Having given up a double bogey at the ninth, Scheffler had trailed his playing partner by five. The Masters champion was understandably magnanimous in defeat. “I’m proud of how I played the back nine,” he said.

“Granted it wasn’t enough, which definitely hurts, but it was nice to make a run. This has been a fun year. I have accomplished a lot. There have been some great memories in there.”

Cameron Young’s 68 secured third at minus 12. Xander Schauffele and Justin Thomas completed the top five. Matt Fitzpatrick signed off on a year which included US Open glory with a 67 to move under par for the tournament.

Shane Lowry’s closing 71 was a disappointment; the Irishman racked up a triple-bogey seven at the 16th. He finished on five over in 18th place. Tommy Fleetwood endured a similarly messy finish – bogey, double bogey, double bogey to be precise. He signed for a 76.

Adrian Meronk’s five-shot win at the Australian Open, meanwhile, keeps alive his dream of becoming the first Polish golfer to feature in a Ryder Cup. The Melbourne event was co-sanctioned by the DP World Tour. – Guardian

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