Hovland outduels Schauffele to win PGA Tour Championship

Norway’s Viktor Hovland won the US PGA Tour’s season-ending Tour Championship at East Lake in Atlanta (Mike Ehrmann)

Viktor Hovland outdueled Xander Schauffele through Sunday’s storm-hit final round to win the US PGA Tour’s season-ending Tour Championship, capturing the $18 million FedEx Cup top prize by five strokes.

The 25-year-old Norwegian fired a bogey-free seven-under par 63 to stand on 27-under after 72 holes at East Lake in Atlanta while American Schauffele was second after matching his season-low round with a 62.

“It’s just pretty surreal standing here right now, playing basically my best golf the last two weeks,” said Hovland as he held the playoff trophy. “It couldn’t have happened at a better moment.”

World number five Hovland shook off a storm delay of one hour and 53 minutes early in his round that dumped nearly half an inch of rain, making four birdies in the first six holes to fight off the reigning Olympic champion.

Starting scores in the FedEx Cup playoff finale were staggered based on season points, with top-ranked Scottie Scheffler at 10-under, Hovland next at 8-under and Schauffele on 3-under.

Hovland made up the deficit in the first round and charged from there.

Schauffele, winless this season, opened with seven birdies in the first 12 holes but settled for the $6.5 million runner-up prize from a $75 million bonus pool.

“The game plan before starting today was middle of the green, make a lot of pars and make Xander get after it, which he did early so I had to change my game plan a little bit,” Hovland said.

Tension built late as Schauffele pulled within three and salvaged par at 13 after finding deep rough left off the tee.

Hovland stayed three ahead by sinking a pressure-packed 23-foot putt — his longest of the week — to save par at the 14th.

“I was happy I didn’t make a bogey,” Hovland said. “I was staring at five on 14. When that putt went in, that was just huge for momentum because two shots with four holes to go is a lot different from three shots.

“That was just a big one for momentum and after that I really relaxed.”

Hovland curled in a birdie putt at 16 from just beyond 10 feet — his first birdie since the sixth hole — and sank a 12-foot birdie putt at 17 to seize a five-stroke edge and seal the triumph.

It was the sixth career PGA Tour victory for Hovland, who also won the Memorial and last week’s BMW Championship this season and managed his best major showing, a runner-up finish at the PGA Championship.

Combined with his victory last week, Hovland’s back-to-back triumphs and those by Lucas Glover the prior two weeks at Greensboro and Memphis marked the first time since 1950 the PGA Tour had consecutive back-to-back event winners.

– Schauffele charges fast –

Hovland’s six-stroke lead entering the final round matched the largest 54-hole lead on tour this season but was also the margin Rory McIlroy rallied from to defeat Scheffler in 2022, so Hovland knew work remained.

Hovland sank a birdie putt from just inside 16 feet at the first before play was halted, then returned from the break to make a par putt from just outside 15 feet at the par-3 second to keep his six-stroke edge.

Schauffele birdied three and four but Hovland made a five-foot birdie putt at the fifth and sank another from just beyond eight feet at six to reach 23-under, restoring his six-stroke lead with everyone else 10-or-more adrift.

Hovland punched out of a greenside bunker to just inside five feet at the par-5 sixth and sank his third straight birdie putt to stay six ahead.

Schauffele sank an 11-foot putt for his fifth birdie in eight holes, shooting 30 on the front nine to Hovland’s 31 to pull within five at the turn.

Showing no regard for the event’s lowest front-nine Sunday total by a final pairing since 2007, officials told them to pick up the pace at the 10th, where each missed a birdie putt from just beyond six feet.

Schauffele sank an 18-foot birdie putt at the par-3 11th and made his seventh birdie of the day from just inside 12 feet at the 12th to pull within three strokes of Hovland, setting up the late drama.

American Wyndham Clark, the US Open winner, was third on 16-under after closing on 65 with four-time major winner Rory McIlroy from Northern Ireland fourth on 14-under after a 65 and American Patrick Cantlay fifth on 13-under after firing 66.


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