Viktor Hovland birdies final hole to get first win in Puerto Rico
Viktor Hovland rolled in a 30-foot birdie putt on the final hole to capture his maiden PGA Tour victory in dramatic fashion at the Puerto Rico Open.
Hovland started the day with a one-shot lead, and at one point he built a three-shot advantage midway through the round. But after overcoming an ill-timed triple bogey, he was facing the prospect of a playoff with journeyman Josh Teater as he played the par-5 closing hole.
After his wedge came up short as rain fell in Rio Grande, the 22-year-old buried the birdie putt to finish the week at 20 under after a final-round 70 and polish off a breakthrough win.
“I hit some really good shots down the stretch,” Hovland said. “The putt on the last was just a bonus.”
Last year the former U.S. Amateur champ became the first player in more than 20 years to take low amateur honors at both the Masters and U.S. Open. He turned pro in June and nearly secured a PGA Tour card at the end of last season via non-member FedExCup points. But after becoming the first rookie to win this season, he’s now fully exempt through 2022 and has earned spots in The Players and PGA Championship later this spring.
He’s also expected to move into the top 60 in the latest world rankings, with the top 50 at the end of March invited to the Masters.
“Obviously you’re trying to win every week, but I mean, to just do it, it’s incredible,” Hovland said. “It’s a special feeling.”
Hovland’s victory means that the three most decorated members of the Class of 2019 have now all won Tour events within the first nine months of their pro career. Hovland’s former teammate at Oklahoma State, Matthew Wolff, won the 3M Open in July, while Collin Morikawa won the Barracuda Championship that same month.
Teater, 40, is playing this season on conditional status and was looking for his first career PGA Tour win in his 193rd start. But his 15-foot birdie putt on No. 18 came up short, and he could only watch as Hovland made a putt of his own a few minutes later.
“Hat’s off to Viktor,” Teater said. “He’s a great player, and we’re going to see him do it more often.”
Former PGA Tour winners Kyle Stanley and Emiliano Grillo were among a tie for third at 15 under, five shots behind Hovland, while veteran Jhonattan Vegas earned a T-9 finish thanks to a final-round 62.