(Reuters) – Viktor Hovland rolled in a nerve-jangling 12-foot birdie putt on the final hole to clinch victory at the Mayakoba Classic in rainy Playa del Carmen in Mexico on Sunday.
Hovland, who needed a long birdie putt at the last in February at the Puerto Rico Open when he became the first Norwegian to win a PGA Tour event, looked as cool as a fjord as he stepped up to put the finishing touch on a final round six-under 65 and notch his second career title.
The 23-year-old’s winning total of 20-under 264 at the El Camaleon Golf Club was one better than American Aaron Wise, who carded the joint best round of the day, a bogey-free eight-under 63.
“I don’t really feel I am honestly very good at those pressure situations, I mean I was shaking there in the end,” said Hovland. “I needed to make birdie on 18 and it just happened to go in.
“I don’t feel comfortable in those moments at all.”
Hovland began the day two off the pace and wasted no time joining overnight leader Argentine Emiliano Grillo at the top of the leaderboard with a run of three straight birdies from the second.
With another birdie on the sixth coupled with a Grillo bogey it was the Norwegian suddenly two shots clear of the field making the turn.
Ahead of Hovland, Wise was putting the pressure on with a string of three consecutive birdies from the 13th to reach the clubhouse with a share of the lead.
But Hovland would not buckle following up his only bogey of the round at the 12th with three more birdies, including one at 18 to cap a masterful effort.
“I was playing very solid all day, obviously the start was great, on the back I didn’t hit it as close as I did on the front,” said Hovland. “My golf was very steady today, it could have been a lot more stressful.”
Adam Long (67) and Tom Hoge (69) finished three back in a tie for third.
World number three Justin Thomas, who had moved into contention with a third round nine-under 62 to start the final day four behind, could not come close to producing a similar effort, signing for a 69 to finish six back of the winner.
(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto. Editing by Toby Davis)