Hovland retains Hero World Challenge title

Viktor Hovland held his nerve to see off a spirited challenge from Scottie Scheffler and retain the Hero World Challenge title in the Bahamas.

Hovland was in danger of squandering a two-shot lead on the final hole at Albany Golf Club, but he salvaged an unlikely bogey to lift the title for the second time in two years.

Scheffler also bogeyed the 18th after his chip from a waste bunker caught the edge of the hole and ran 15 feet past. That left Hovland to celebrate an unexpectedly dramatic two-shot win on 16 under par, after a closing 69.

Hovland had a three-shot lead over Scheffler going into the final round, but set up a nervy finish on Sunday’s final hole after pulling his second shot from an awkward lie on the edge of a bunker into the water, before managing to get up and down for a priceless bogey.

“It’s freaking nerve-racking,” said Hovland. “I was leading by five, I think, after the turn and didn’t play all that great on the back nine, but it was good enough. It made it a little bit exciting, I guess.”

Scheffler, who needed to win to reclaim top spot in the world rankings from Rory McIlroy, momentarily held a share of the lead when the Masters champion followed birdies on the second and fourth by chipping in for eagle on the sixth. However, playing partner Hovland holed from 20 feet on the same hole to edge back in front and Scheffler’s hopes looked to have disappeared with a bogey on the seventh and double bogey on the par-five ninth. Scheffler then kept the pressure on with four birdies on the back nine, which almost paid off on the 18th.

Hovland joins tournament host Tiger Woods (2006-07) as the only players to win back-to-back titles in the limited-field event, which is restricted to just 20 players. Woods was set to play in this year’s event, but pulled out due to a foot injury just days before the tournament.

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