Thursday, June 20, 2024

Hovland number three in the PGA Championship – his dream of victory shattered on the last hole

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Viktor Hovland made a big impression on the final day of the American PGA Championship in Louisville, but the chance of victory was crushed on the last hole. Photo: Jeff Roberson, AP / NTB

Of NTB | 20.05.2024 00:59:33

Sport: He finished third three strokes behind Xander Schauffele, who settled with a birdie putt on the final hole to finish 21 strokes under par overall. Bryson DeChambeau hoped for a rematch, but finished one stroke behind the winner.

Hovland was chasing his first major title, and after 13 holes played on Sunday, the Norwegian golf star was briefly alone in the lead. He followed up the strong play from the first three days and was then six shots under par for the day and 19 overall.

Schauffele quickly took back the lead, but was hard pressed by Hovland, who delivered brilliant golf.

On the last hole, the Norwegian got a so-called mud ball and was left far out to the right. He still managed to get a birdie opportunity. He watched DeChambeau, with whom he went the round, sink his birdie putt and move into a shared lead. Then he missed his own birdie putt, and thus the chance of victory was gone.

The par putt went wide and out, and thus he got his first bogey since Friday.

Hovland revealed after Saturday’s round that he was considering withdrawing from the tournament due to poor form, but after resuming his partnership with his former coach Joe Mayo many pieces appear to have fallen into place. With play like he showed in Louisville, it won’t be long before he joins the elite group of major winners.

Hovland avoided a lopsided start to the 4th round when he sunk a long par putt on the first hole. There were also pars on the next three holes, but on the 4th hole he missed a birdie putt from less than two metres.

On the 6th hole, he placed his putt about a meter from the hole and collected his second birdie of the day. He was thus 15 strokes under par in total and in joint 3rd place, two strokes behind leader Schauffele.

On the next hole he ran into trouble when he ended up in a sand pit. The move was not entirely successful, but then he rolled in his third straight birdie putt from six meters and climbed to joint 2nd place one stroke behind Schauffele.

Two pars later, Hovland’s round was half played, and he was three under for the day. The last half started with the fourth birdie of the day, and again he was one stroke behind Schauffele, who in the meantime had made another birdie.

On the 11th hole, Hovland had to sink a long putt to avoid his first bogey since Thursday, but he also mastered it. Then he sank his fifth birdie putt on the 12th hole, still keeping pace with Schauffele.

Schauffele hit back with birdies on the 11th and 12th holes, and thus he was in the lead again, 20 under par and one stroke ahead of Hovland, who missed usable birdie opportunities on both the 14th and 15th holes.

On the 16th hole, there was another birdie, but Hovland got DeChambeau up on his side after the ball bounced the American’s way. He hit between the trees, but the ball hit a branch and bounced straight out onto the fairway. With a birdie, DeChambeau also went to 19 under par.

Hovland had an excellent birdie opportunity on the 17th hole, but missed by a few centimeters. Then came the awkward 18th hole.

World number one Scottie Scheffler, who won four of his previous five tournaments including the US Masters, fell down the charts with a weak round on Saturday. It happened the day after he was arrested by the police and charged with violence against a police officer and reckless driving. Scheffler improved with a round of 65 on Sunday and finished tied for 8th place.

Throughout most of the round, Hovland was in a close duel with Schauffele for the lead. Only at the bat did DeChambeau intervene.

Then it came loose. On the 5th hole he sunk a much more difficult putt for the first birdie of the day. From five and a half meters he rolled the ball in.

After four birdies, Schauffele had a bogey on the 10th hole, and thus Hovland was in a shared lead. When the Norwegian sunk his sixth birdie putt of the day on the 13th hole, he was alone at the top of the charts.

A number of top players missed the cut halfway through the tournament. Among them were John Rahm, who had made the cut in 18 consecutive major tournaments, and Tiger Woods. The same fate suffered the Swedish shooting star Ludvig Åberg, who came second in the US Masters, and last year’s US Open champion Wyndham Clark.

(© NTB)

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