Nassau (Bahamas), Dec 5 (PTI): Viktor Hovland defended his Hero World Challenge title here as he shot a final-round 3-under 69 to hold off Scottie Scheffler for the second consecutive year.
Hovland (69-70-64-69), who ended at 16-under, had five birdies and two bogeys on the final day.The 25-year-old thus became only the second golfer since Tiger Woods to defend his title at the 20-player event.
Woods, who withdrew from the tournament this year due to injury on his right foot, had achieved the feat in 2007 when he defeated Zach Johnson.
With the victory, Hovland moves to No. 9 in the Official World Golf Ranking.
Like Collin Morikawa last year, Scheffler was unsuccessful in his bid to return to become the world number 1 despite a spirited show.
Last year, Hovland rallied from six strokes behind with a final-round 66 to edge Scheffler.
Hovland completely dominated the proceedings from day 1 as he led or shared the lead from the start to the end of the tournament.
The most pivotal day for the Norwegian was Friday, when he was able to navigate through the gusty winds and card a 2-under while all the other golfers struggled. His third-round 64 was the lowest score recorded by any player in any round.
Even though Hovland was dominant throughout, he had a nervy finish.
With a two-stroke lead, Hovland found the water on the 18th and eventually bogeyed the hole.
Hovland had three birdies which helped him notch up a five-shot lead heading into the back nine, and despite a bogey on the 13th, he immediately responded with birdies on the 14th and 15th.
Scheffler then hit back late with three consecutive birdies from the 14th to pull within two shots of Hovland with two holes to play.
On the 18th, Hovland took on the green from outside of 200 yards and sent his ball into the water. But he managed to sink a 20-foot bogey putt to clinch the title as Scheffler also bogeyed the hole.
“It was a lot more stressful than it should have been,” Hovland said.
“The putt on the last was pretty sweet. The putt on 17 was big as well. I don’t know, I didn’t make too many long putts. It was just like I made a decent amount of putts from 15 to 20 feet.
“When I hit a lot of good approach shots in there and you’re hoping to make them, I just started making them a lot more over the last two days,” he added.
Scheffler, a Masters champion, had also bogeyed the 7th and double-bogeyed the par-5 9th as he posted a 68.
“I’m proud of how I played the back nine. I got some good looks and made some nice putts and it was good to kind of make a little run. Granted it wasn’t enough, which definitely hurts, but it was nice to make a run,” Scheffler said.
Cameron Young (68) finished third on 12-under par, with Xander Schauffele (68) in fourth on 11-under par and Justin Thomas (70) in fifth on 10-under par.
The 20-golfer event featured 15 of the top 20 in the world.