Viktor Hovland sets course record with 61 to win BMW Championship

Olympia Fields, Illinois — Victor Hovland kept hitting every shot the way he wanted on his back nine at Olympia Fields. Rory McIlroy kept a Hovland card and kept writing “3” on almost every box.

Hofland delivered the best run of his career at just the right time on Sunday, turning the two-man race into a one-man show by smashing the course record with a 9-under 61 to pass Scotty Scheffler and Matt Fitzpatrick and win the BMW championship.

The previous mark of 62 was set twice this week on the rain-soaked North Course, by Sam Burns and Max Homma on the last two days. Hovland was so close to perfection that he birdied all but two of his nine holes.

“When I putt out 15 for birdies, I felt like, ‘Well, we have a chance now if you can finish well,’” Hovland said. idea of ​​what’s going on. I was just going to try to play well and keep making birds.”

What happened behind him was nothing special. Scheffler was punching enough putts to lead by 2 at one point, but he missed the ones that really matter – 6-foot birdie at par 3 in the 16th to stay with Hovland, then three 20-foot putts in the 17th for bogey.

Fitzpatrick had an eight-hole stretch in the middle of his 1 par, and then at least two late birdies kept him in the game. He and Scheffler closed with 66 points to share second place and left Chicago feeling powerless.

“I can’t do anything about 61,” said Fitzpatrick, smiling. “I just saw Victor—I called him a little bit.” “But for me, I’m really happy again because I played really well, last round in contention with the world number one, and I didn’t lose it. Someone else came from behind and won it.”

Even on the soft turf, Scheffler was baffled by the low scores and could only give Hoovland a round of applause, especially on Sunday. It was the lowest closing round for a PGA Tour winner this year, and a career best for the 25-year-old Norwegian star.

“I’m a little disappointed. I guess that’s the way to put it,” Scheffler said. “Victor came out and really hit me today and played a great round. I can hold my head up high. I gave my best out there today and I fought really hard. Only in the end I came out with short strokes.”

Hovland won for the second time this year and has never looked better doing it.

He had one putt longer than 15 feet on the back nine. He closed with Birds on the 17th and 18th, his two hardest holes, and finished with a 158-yard wedge over the bunker to 6 feet on the 18th for another birdie.

“This has to be the best tour I’ve ever played,” Hovland said. “Because of the circumstances—a playoff event, this golf course—the way I played the last holes was very special.”

Turns out, the drama came from everywhere else.

Jordan Spieth bogeyed his last two holes for 71 and was about to fall out of the top 30 in the FedEx Cup arriving in Eastlake next week for the Tour Championship. But then Denny McCarthy made a three-bogey on the last seven holes to come out.

The cruelest fate of all was Sahih Thigala. He ran three straight birdies through the 17th hole and was expected to be in the top 30. But he took a bogey on the last hole, while Patrick Cantlay made a birdie in his group. They were tied for 15th place, and this combination of bravery and birdie was enough to end Theegala’s season.

Sepp Straka ended up finishing 30th, nine points behind Thigala.

Xander Schauffele did enough in his turn 68 to tie for eighth, and earn enough money to narrowly claim the sixth and final automatic spot on the U.S. Ryder Cup team. Scheufele was sure to land one of the six captain’s picks, but his finish moved PGA Champion Brooks Koepka from fifth to seventh in the Ryder Cup standings.

United States captain Zack Johnson makes his six picks in nine days.

Scheffler had a six birdie and never fell from the lead until late in the day, although he was haunted by three putts from 6 feet or closer that he missed the last eight holes.

Scheffler, in small consolation, is the top seed in East Lake for the second year in a row. This meant that he started the tournament at 10-under-par, 2 shots ahead of Hovland.

McIlroy, who shot a 66 and finished fourth in the BMW Championship, is the No. 3 seed, followed by John Rahm and Lucas Glover.

“I felt I played very average there alongside Victor. He played fantastic,” McIlroy said. “I would mark his card there and say, ‘Oh, I only made a single 4 on the back nine, and the rest is 3s.'” It adds up to 28 cute little ones for him.

“I kind of realized around 14, 15, that something very special was going on.”

For all the FedEx Cup odds played out over the course of nearly six hours on Sunday, Fitzpatrick was the only player to make his way into the top 30 golfers who headed to Atlanta for the $18 million bonus. He started at No. 40 and moved up to No. 10.