It was a wild final round at Albany, Bahamas as players jockeyed up the leaderboard throughout the day. When the final putt dropped, it was Viktor Hovland who had won the 2021 Hero World Challenge. At 18-under par, Hovland becomes the fourth winner in the last five tournaments at Albany to post a winning score of 18-under par.
Making his debut at Albany this week, Hovland evaded trouble and bested the championship course. Hovland, who is Norwegian, is the third straight European to win the Hero World Challenge following Henrik Stenson (2019) and Jon Rahm (2018). For only the third time in tournament history, Hovland won in his tournament debut, joining Rahm and Luke Donald (2005) as the only players to accomplish that feat.
“Honestly, when I first teed off and obviously got off to just making a few pars early on, I didn’t really think winning was even in question,” Hovland said of starting the day six shots off the lead. “But after I made three birdies in a row at the end of the front nine and I got to No. 9 and I was in the greenside bunker and I looked up at the leaderboard and I saw I believe I was tied for the lead, maybe one shot behind or something like that, that’s when I knew that, okay, if I play really well on the back nine, I’ve got a chance.”
Hovland separated himself from the field on the 14th hole as he knocked in an eagle from the greenside bunker. It was his third eagle on the 14th hole this week. Not to be outdone, Hovland eagled 15 to create further distance between himself and the pack.
“There’s only 20 guys in the field, but the players here are really good and I feel like my wins have come when the field hasn’t been as strong, so for me to do well in a field like this gives me a lot of confidence,” Hovland said.
The first Norwegian player to win the U.S. Amateur (2018) and the first player from Norway to compete in the Masters (2019), Hovland is now the first Norwegian player to win the Hero World Challenge.
Accepting the Hero World Challenge trophy from Tournament Host Tiger Woods, Hovland had a good showing in the other event hosted by Woods, finishing T5 at the 2021 Genesis Invitational.
“I remember sitting in the classroom just watching highlights on YouTube,” Hovland said of Woods. “He definitely inspired me and helped me in that way, but watching his highlights kind of make it seem even more farfetched because you’re going to be competing against this guy when you get on TOUR hopefully. It was more like I made it more of a dream.”
Entering the week ranked ninth in the Official World Golf Ranking, winning Tiger’s trophy at the Hero World Challenge vaults Hovland to seventh in the current ranking after a stellar year on the PGA TOUR.