Viktor Hovland poses with the trophy after winning the BMW Championship at Olympia Fields Country Club in Illinois. Michael Reaves/Getty Images CNN —
Matt Fitzpatrick had two words for Viktor Hovland: “Little sh**.”
The Englishman, like everyone else at Olympia Fields Country Club on Sunday, was left stupefied as his Norwegian counterpart shot a course record to overhaul him and clinch an astonishing victory at the BMW Championship in Illinois.
Lucas Glover holds the winner’s trophy after winning the St. Jude Championship golf tournament Sunday, Aug. 13, 2023, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/George Walker IV) George Walker IV/AP
Hovland shot 10 birdies – including seven across the last nine holes – to card an unprecedented nine-under 61 and edge Fitzpatrick and world No. 1 Scottie Scheffler by two strokes at 17-under overall.
The 25-year-old had begun the day three shots off the lead, only to shoot the lowest round of his career – and the lowest by a winner on the PGA Tour this season – to clinch his fifth PGA Tour triumph and $3.6 million in prize money.
Already one of the game’s biggest stars, the world No. 5 has carded many stunning rounds in his four years since turning pro, but none quite as special as Sunday.
“It has to be number one,” Hovland told Sky Sports.
“I remember playing a pretty special round of golf my first year on [the PGA] Tour, I shot seven under at Torrey Pines when it was hailing and windy and raining and that’s probably the best I’ve ever struck it throughout a round.
“But to shoot 61 and shoot 28 on the back nine at this golf course and under the circumstances, I have nothing that beats that.”
Hovland reacts after closing with a birdie. Dylan Buell/Getty Images
Scheffler second again
It continues the relentless rise of the Oklahoma State University alumni, who also won at the Memorial Tournament in June and finished no lower than tied-13th at the four majors, including joint runner-up at the PGA Championship.
His place on Europe’s Ryder Cup team already confirmed, Hovland heads to the season-ending Tour Championship at East Lake in Atlanta second only to Scheffler in the FedEx Cup standings, with Sunday’s victory rocketing him up five places.
It means Hovland will tee off two shots behind Scheffler, who was left to rue yet another strong performance that ultimately reaped no silverware. The American opened the season with two quick victories but has yet to win again since triumphing at The Players Championship in March.
With six runner-up finishes across his last two PGA Tour seasons, only Cameron Young has finished second as often, though Scheffler’s six wins during that period undoubtedly soften the blow.
Scheffler came agonizingly close to victory once again. Michael Reaves/Getty Images
“I’m just a bit frustrated,” said Scheffler, who closed with a four-under 65.
“Viktor went out and really just beat me today and played a fantastic round. I can hold my head high, I did my best out there today and fought hard. Just ultimately came up a couple shots short.”
‘Can’t do anything about 61’
Hovland’s Ryder Cup teammate Fitzpatrick was in an upbeat mood despite seeing his hopes of a third PGA Tour snatched away late on.
“Played great, can’t do anything about 61,” said Fitzpatrick, who matched Scheffer’s closing 66.
“Just really pleased again that I played really well final round in contention with [the] world No. 1, and I didn’t lose it. Someone else came from behind and won it.”
Fitzpatrick escapes a bunker during the final round. Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire/Getty Images
Rory McIlroy finished three shots behind Fitzpatrick and Scheffler in fourth after also shooting 66. Paired with Hovland for the final round, the Northern Irishman had a front row seat to a historic showing.
I felt like I played very average out there next to Viktor, he played amazing,” McIlroy said.
“He’s a world-class player and looking forward to him being on my team for the Ryder Cup in a few weeks’ time.
“He just keeps his foot on the pedal. Just isn’t scared. Just keeps going forward, keeps going at it.”