PGA Tour

Viktor Hovland wins FedEx Cup title after flawless final round in the Tour Championship

The 25-year-old Norwegian is the third-youngest FedEx Cup winner in PGA Tour history

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Viktor Hovland of Norway celebrates with the FedEx Cup after winning during the final round of the TOUR Championship at East Lake Golf Club on Aug. 27, 2023 in Atlanta.

Viktor Hovland played the best golf of his life in the final two weeks of the PGA Tour season, and it paid off Sunday with the biggest trophy of his career — a FedEx Cup title along with the $18 million bonus.

Staked to a six-shot lead, Hovland didn't flinch under a relentless challenge from Xander Schauffele. The 25-year-old Norwegian stayed on the attack and closed with a 7-under 63 for a five-shot victory at East Lake.

Hovland capped off his best season with three victories. Even more staggering is that he played his final tournaments — the BMW Championship at Olympia Fields and the Tour Championship at East Lake — in 36-under par.

Schauffele made him work for that $18 million and got to within three shots with seven holes to play. Hovland ended the suspense with a 25-foot par putt on the 14th hole, and he put Schauffele away with a 10-foot birdie putt on the 16th.

Schauffele and Hovland put on a superb show. Playing in the last group, on a day that was delayed nearly two hours by thunderstorms, they had the best scores of the day.

Hovland was the No. 2 seed going into the Tour Championship, meaning he started at 8-under par. Hovland posted a 19-under 261 — the same score as Schauffele, who started the tournament at 3-under par.

Schauffele did everything he could. He was six shots behind when he left East Lake on Saturday evening, knowing that his only hope was to put as much pressure on Hovland as he could over the front nine.

Schauffele shot 30. Hovland nearly matched him birdie for birdie, posting a 31 that included a key 15-foot par save on No. 2 after the two-hour delay from thunderstorms that slightly softened the East Lake turf.

Schauffele, for all his California chill, was simply relentless. He holed an 18-foot birdie putt on the par-3 11th hole and followed with a 12-foot birdie on the 12th, cutting the lead to three shots with seven holes to play.

It felt like the margin was even smaller considering how well Schauffele was playing, and Hovland having missed three birdie chances from 10 feet or closer.

The putt that mattered came at the 14th, the toughest hole at East Lake. Hovland came up short of the green, about 100 feet from the flag, and his pitch was weak and stopped just inside 25 feet from the hole.

He poured it in the heart and pumped his fist stronger than he had all day. The clincher was another pure short iron, this one to 10 feet on the 16th for birdie. At that point, the engraver went to work on the silver FedEx Cup trophy.

Now it's a matter of how his peers judge his season. The PGA Tour player of the year was thought to be a two-man race between Masters champion Jon Rahm and his four wins and Scottie Scheffler with The Players Championship among his two wins and the No. 1 ranking from his remarkable consistency.

Hovland ended the season with wins at the Memorial and two FedEx Cup playoff events, including the one that mattered.

U.S. Open champion Wyndham Clark won the B-Flight, closing with a 65 to finish third, 11 shots behind. That was worth a $5 million bonus. Rory McIlroy had a 65 to finish fourth and collect $4 million, while Patrick Cantlay (66) was alone in fifth to earn $3 million.

The next time Hovland and Schauffele meet is for no prize money at all — the Ryder Cup in Rome in a month's time.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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