Viktor Hovland, the 25-year-old Norwegian golfer, clinched victory at the BMW Championship by setting a course record on the North Course at Olympia Fields Country Club. The BMW Championship is the penultimate FedEx Cup playoff event, and Hovland’s win secured him a spot in the Tour Championship next week.
Hovland shot a remarkable 9-under 61 in the final round, including a seven-birdie stretch on the back nine, to finish at 17-under 263. He birdied all but two of the holes on the back nine, and sank a birdie putt from just beyond six feet at the 18th to break the old course record of 62. He also made 10 birdies against a lone bogey in his career-low round.
“Definitely has to be the best round I’ve ever played,” Hovland said. “Given the circumstances, playoff round at this golf course and finish the way I did the last nine holes was pretty special.”
Hovland’s Rise to Fame
Hovland, who turned pro in 2019, has been one of the most consistent and impressive players on the PGA Tour this season. He has won two tournaments, the Mayakoba Golf Classic in December and the Memorial Tournament in June, and finished second at the PGA Championship in May. He also represented Norway at the Tokyo Olympics, where he tied for 16th place.
Hovland is known for his ball-striking and his improved short game, which he credits to his coach Pete Cowen. He also has a cheerful and humble personality, which has endeared him to fans and fellow players alike.
“My ball-striking has just been very consistent this year and my chipping around the green has improved massively,” Hovland said of his season. “Just makes it so that even when I’m not on my game I can still scrap it around at even par and make it to the weekend.”
Hovland faced a strong field of competitors at the BMW Championship, which featured the top 70 players in the FedEx Cup standings. Among them were world number one Scottie Scheffler of the United States and world number two Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, who both finished in the top four.
Scheffler and England’s Matthew Fitzpatrick, last year’s US Open winner, fired 66s to share second place on 265. Scheffler took over as season points leader and will start at 10-under next week at East Lake. Fitzpatrick jumped from 40th to 10th in points and qualified for the Tour Championship.
McIlroy, who won the BMW Championship in 2012, shot a 66 to finish fourth on 268. He moved up from fifth to third in points and will start at 7-under next week. Reigning Masters champion Jon Rahm of Spain, who had led when the week began, slipped to fourth in points after a tie for ninth place.
Hovland’s Next Challenge
Hovland will face his biggest challenge yet at the Tour Championship, where he will compete against the top 30 players in the FedEx Cup standings for a chance to win the $15 million bonus. He jumped from seventh to second in points with his win at Olympia Fields, and will start at 8-under next week.
Hovland will have to contend with some of the best players in the world, such as Scheffler, McIlroy, Rahm, Collin Morikawa, Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth, and Bryson DeChambeau. He will also have to overcome a two-shot deficit to Scheffler, who will start with an advantage based on his points position.
However, Hovland is confident that he can play well at East Lake, where he tied for 20th last year. He said he likes the course layout and feels comfortable with his game.
“I think it suits my eye pretty well,” Hovland said of East Lake. “I feel like I can hit a lot of fairways there and hit some good iron shots. And if I can keep rolling it like I did today then I think I’ll have a good chance.”