Viktor Hovland’s caddie, Shay Knight, knew where his man stood with two holes remaining in the World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba. But Knight dared not tell him – until Hovland asked as they walked up the 17th fairway.
The lead was three shots. The lead had been as many as five shots late on the back nine but was cut by a surging Carlos Ortiz.
Undeterred, Hovland birdied the 17th hole and then split the fairway at the last en route to a closing par and a 4-under 67. Hovland finished at 23 under par, a new tournament record, four shots clear of Ortiz (66). He won last year’s tournament at 20 under.
It was no surprise that Hovland finished by hitting the short grass on the 72nd hole. The driver was his new best friend this week after he had to borrow one when Danny Lee snapped Hovland’s on the range ahead of Round 1.
Fortunately, James Hahn had a backup model similar to that of Hovland’s – just a wee bit shorter. Feeling confident with the new – yet familiar – driver, Hovland shot 67-65-62 to take a two-shot lead into the final round.
Despite a couple of back-nine bogeys, Hovland was never in trouble on Sunday. He made three birdies by the turn and added three more on the inward half. He finished the week T-2 in the field in driving accuracy (41 of 56 fairways hit), but also T-5 in putts per green in regulation and fifth in scrambling.
This is Hovland’s third PGA Tour victory, all of which have come outside the states. In addition to his back-to-back wins in Mexico, Hovland also won the 2020 Puerto Rico Open. He is the first player to successfully defend his title at Mayakoba and is the first to repeat on Tour since Brooks Koepka in the 2019 PGA Championship.