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Viktor Hovland Takes Full Advantage of Collin Morikawa's Collapse

By: | Mon 06 Dec 2021 | Comments

Most golf eyes were on the Hero World Challenge this weekend, hosted by a resurfaced Tiger Woods, but few could have anticipated the drama as world number one hopeful Collin Morikawa struggled dramatically on Sunday, opening the door for European sensation Viktor Hovland to triumph over the limited but elite field.

Hovland Takes Advantage of Morikawa's Collapse

VIKTOR HOVLAND claimed his third victory of 2021 after back-to-back eagles helped him to overturn a six-shot deficit and win the Hero World Challenge. Open champion Collin Morikawa had gone into the final round with a five-shot lead, knowing that victory would see him replace Jon Rahm at the top of the world rankings.

But Morikawa had a day to forget at Albany Golf Club. Hovland closed with a 6-under 66 in his debut at a tournament that saw a final day filled with eagles and triple bogeys, none more bizarre than Jordan Spieth and Henrik Stenson hitting their drives off the ninth tee from what was a new 17th tee for the final round.

“I didn't think a win was going to be very possible,” Hovland said. “But I know this course is tricky. You can make birdies, but it's easy to make bogeys and doubles. If I put a good score up there, you never know what's going to happen.”

Morikawa missed three birdie chances from 10 feet or closer at the start of the round but there was no sign of the drama to come. He then hit two shots into the bushes at the fourth and sixth holes, both of which cost him double-bogeys. He took 41 shots to complete the front nine on the way to a round of 76 and a tie for fifth.

Hovland was among five players who had at least a share of the lead at some point. That changed on the reachable par-4 14th for more than just Hovland.

First it was Sam Burns, a two-time winner this year who was tied for the lead when he put his tee shot just right of the green. Four times, with a fairway metal and a wedge, he hit up the slope and watched it roll back to his feet. He made triple bogey to fall back.

Next came Hovland, hitting his tee shot into a bunker. He blasted out and looked on in delight as it dropped for an eagle. On the par-five 15th, Hovland hit his second shot with a breeze at his back to 20 feet and holed that for another eagle.

And he wasn't done. He then struck his approach to three feet for birdie on the 16th. He then finished with two bogeys to end the week on 18-under 270.

Scottie Scheffler narrowly missed a fifth straight birdie on the 18th hole. He shot 66 and finished one shot behind. Scheffler started seven shots back. Despite a triple bogey, he nearly won.

Justin Thomas had a 64 to tie for fifth. Another shot back was Daniel Berger, who was right in the mix until starting the back nine with two bogeys, and then holing out with a full wedge for eagle from the 15th fairway.

Bryson DeChambeau finished his day with a triple bogey from the water. He was leading after 36 holes and finished in a tie for 14th in the 20-man field.

Spieth and Stenson were at the bottom of the pack all day, and they were assured of staying there when they walked back to where the ninth tee had been all week, not realising that it was used as the tee for the par-3 17th hole and they should have been playing about 25 yards farther ahead. They had to replay the hole and add two shots to their score.

Van Tonder Secures South African Open in Dramatic Fashion

DANIEL VAN TONDER holed a 25-foot birdie putt on the final green to snatch a dramatic one-shot victory at the South African Open at Sun City.

With Oliver Bekker chipping in three times in the final round at the Gary Player Country Club on his way to a closing 66 and a total of 15-under-par, Van Tonder had a stroke of luck when his approach to the par-five 18th island green only just stayed out of the water. But he hit a poor chip that came up well short and a playoff with Bekker seemed inevitable.

“As I stood over that putt, I remembered missing a short one at the end of the third round,” said Van Tonder. “So I said to myself, ‘watch this one go in!’ And it did!”

It was his second victory of the year, coming after a win at the Kenya Savannah Classic in Nairobi in March on the European Tour.

“This is something I’ve dreamed about my whole life,” said van Tonder. “I don’t think there is a South African kid who doesn’t want to see his name on this trophy for the second oldest national championship in the world.”

Bekker shot a magnificent final round of 65 to see off the challenge of Justin Harding and Hennie du Plessis who finished third, Dean Burmester who was fourth and CJ du Plessis who came home in fifth.

He started his chase for the title with a birdie on the first, and when Harding made a triple-bogey at the second after a shank with his approach, the tournament was wide open.

Bekker then chipped in for birdie on four and for eagle on five. That brought his total of chip-ins for the week to four. But Van Tonder just kept on pushing, making three birdies in four holes from the fifth.

Bekker then duffed a chip on the ninth for his third shot but promptly chipped in once again to save par. Not to be outdone, Van Tonder had a chip-in birdie on the 10th, while Bekker made an easy birdie on 11.

Bekker misread putt on the par-three 13th for birdie, and missed the return to slip two back of Van Tonder. Van Tonder pounced immediately, and a superb tee-shot on the par-three 16th saw him make an easy birdie.

Bekker was not done, however. There were two birdies in a row on 16 and 17 with long-range putts, and then he came within millimetres of making his 40-foot eagle-putt on 18 after a brave approach over the water. The tap-in birdie set the stage for Van Tonder’s heroics on the last.

The Freddie Tait Cup for the leading amateur was won by Yurav Premllal, who finished on two-under in a share of 30th, three shots ahead of Kieron van Wyk.

For van Tonder, the joy of being the fourth South African in a row to win the trophy after Louis Oosthuizen, Branden Grace and Christiaan Bezuidenhout means he will be able to enjoy his Christmas.

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