Viktor Hovland kept his Norwegian composure as he took victory at the Memorial in a one-hole elimination duel against Denny McCarthy.
Hovland handled the toughest stretch at Muirfield Village and delivered three putts at the end to win the Memorial.
The 25-year-old closed with a two-under 70 on another brutal test on a course baked all week by the sun, forcing the playoffs with a 30-foot birdie on the 17th – the only one on this hole in the final round – and save the from behind the 18th green.
McCarthy held a one-stroke lead going down 18 at Jack Nicklaus’ Muirfield Village Golf Club with Hovland in the clubhouse at seven under.
But the American was wayward off the tee and found himself in a tough lie that left him with no choice but to simply step forward but onto the fairway, leaving himself well short of the green in two.
Viktor Hovland picked up victory at the Memorial in a one-hole playoff against Denny McCarthy
Hovland handled the toughest stretch at Muirfield Village and delivered three clutch putts
McCarthy held a one-shot lead going into the 18th but was left off the tee forcing a playoff
He found the green safe with his third, but his 20-foot putt for par agonized, forcing himself and Hovland down 18 with the title at stake.
Back at the 18th and playoffs, McCarthy went the opposite direction of the tee, leaving his ball buried in the rough above a fairway bunker.
His shot from the rough right came back from the green about 50 yards out. He pitched 12 feet and the putt caught the left edge and swung away.
Meanwhile, Hovland, safely off the tee, barely made it to the front of the green, about 60 feet from the back pin, and hit two putts as he hit a 7-foot putt for the win.
It was his fourth PGA Tour victory and his first on American soil, this one with a winner’s check for $3.6 million and a handshake from host Jack Nicklaus. The Norwegian’s previous victories were in Mexico twice and in Puerto Rico.
“It’s kind of surreal right now,” Hovland said on the CBS show. “Playing Jack’s course and playing his tournament and winning it, and so he could see it, he just shook my hand and gave me a few words of encouragement. That’s pretty awesome.
Meanwhile, unlucky McCarthy said he was ‘heartbroken’, with emotion in his voice after his closest call to win on the PGA Tour on his 156th attempt .
It was a final day where so many went upside down from the 22 players who had been separated by three shots at the start of the round.
Hovland was safe off the tee but barely reached the front of the green with his second
The Norwegian admitted it was ‘surreal’ to win at Jack Nicklaus’ legendary course
On his final hole, McCarthy had no choice but to simply step forward but onto the fairway
Rory McIlroy chipped under the fourth green for a birdie and had the lead on the front nine, but he gave way too many shots from the back – three bogeys in a row – for a 75 that took him off the board .
Scottie Scheffler closed with a 67 and finished third and missed the playoffs by one stroke, remarkable considering he made the cut on the count. The world No.1 player has finished no worse than 12th in 13 starts this year.
But what a week to forget with the putter.
Scheffler put in a statistically dominant performance from tee to green, hauling in 20.7 shots from the field in this category. But he lost 8.5 strokes on the ground in his putting. That’s perhaps the best context – it was nearly a 20-stroke differential putting out McCarthy, and Scheffler finished one stroke behind.
“I think a little bit of my struggles with putting probably helped me elevate my ball striking, just because if I’m trying to compete here…with the putts not going in, I really have to hit it. well. And I was able to do that,” Scheffler said.
“Maybe people ask me if I put in a lot more because I hit so well,” he said. “When you hit a bunch of greens, it’s not easy to hit every putt. I mean, if I put the best this week, I would have won by an insane number of strokes.
That belonged to Hovland, who joined McCarthy (70) at 7-under 281.
Rory McIlroy had the lead in the front nine but gave way too many backstrokes
Scottie Scheffler closed with a 67 and finished third and missed the playoffs by one shot
Hovland, who moves up to No. 5 in the world, didn’t feel like he did anything special. He had better weeks hitting the ball. His lowest round all week was 69. But he was the only player to beat par all four rounds.
“I played smart. I played my game. And I came this time,” Hovland said.
He was particularly strong at the end. The bottom three have been the toughest in Muirfield Village all week. Hovland birdied two of three on Saturday to enter the mix, and he played them 1 under on Sunday to advance to the playoffs.
Si Woo Kim, who played in the last group with McIlroy, had a 73 to finish alone in fourth. Jordan Spieth was in the group another shot back.