Tee Time with T: Hovland is a hero 

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Viktor Hovland of Norway brought the heat to the Bahamas in his heroic Hero World Challenge win on Sunday at the Albany Golf Course. In the final PGA Tour match of 2021, Hovland made a strong statement, taking over the weekend’s top spot amongst a lineup of popular, talented golfers on the Tour. There’s a lot to unpack here, so Hovland’s scoring statistics are a good place to tee off. 

Hovland’s first round was average amongst the rest of the golfers with 68 shots. He had a double bogey, his only one of the tournament, which knocked him down to the mid-range. On top of that, he had two bogeys and would go on to have at least two in each round this weekend. What propelled him to victory were the back-to-back eagles he shot in the final round on the 14th and 15th holes. 

The Norwegian golfer finished the Hero World Challenge with 270 shots and won 48 World Ranking points, so he now sits at a modest seventh place. This might be a rank or two below what he should be at, only because he’s had an impressive tour this year. Not only did Hovland win the World Wide Technology Championship (again), but he set a scoring record of 72 for the tournament’s history. I can’t say I’m a particularly big fan, but he’s been popping up more and more on leaderboards and had a great year overall, so I applaud him for his continuous efforts and I’m sure he’ll be hot on the green in 2022. 

Now onto the golfer who finished in second place, Scottie Scheffler. If you’ve been following Tee Time with T, you probably already know exactly what my thoughts are on his finish and performance from this weekend, but I’ll emphasize them anyways. 

Scheffler was robbed. Again. 

With the exception of the first round and technically the last round because they were tied for shots at 66, Scheffler beat Hovland in two rounds. Scheffler matched him on the last one, and Hovland beat Scheffler on the first, but I think that Scheffler definitely outplayed Hovland. 

Scheffler didn’t have a single bogey throughout the four rounds, and in the last two he had several birdies. The fourth round saw birdies on half of the holes. With 271 shots, Scheffler was second in the Championship at just a stroke behind Hovland. 

Since this wasn’t an “official” PGA Tour event, there weren’t any FedEx Cup points up for grabs and Hovland’s win doesn’t count as an actual PGA Tour title, so it’s not a huge deal that Scheffler came up short. He sits at 11th in the world, but I can’t help wondering if he would be ranked within the top 10 if he came in second instead of third at the Hewlett Packard Enterprise Houston Open, or if he didn’t have two double bogeys towards the end of the World Wide Technology Championship. 

My New Year’s resolution for Scheffler is to be in the top 10 by the end of January. Is that a short-sided goal? I really don’t think so. He has the talent and capabilities — a lot of it comes down to just a single shot. 

Speaking of taking shots, Colin Morikawa of America had a shot this weekend to enter 2022 as the No. 1 golfer in the world if he had won. He started off playing well, peaked at the third round and then fell hard and fast to second to last place in the final round. On Sunday, he approached the green with a five-shot lead, but after missing three opportunities for birdies at or under 10 feet, Morikawa only won a fiancée this weekend, after popping the question to his then-girlfriend Katherine Zhu. 

Perhaps the biggest missed opportunity was for Henrik Stenson of Sweden, the previous Hero World Challenge winner. He had the chance to go back-to-back and just, well, didn’t. In the first two rounds, Stenson shot one over par. He managed to pick it back up for the last two and not be at the bottom of the scoreboard, but it was a really disappointing weekend for him as he finished the Challenge at 19 out of 20. 

Who was 20? As a fan of Jordan Spieth, it even pains me to write this and highlight the fact that the American golfer had five bogeys in the third round, and then a double bogey to really set him back. He finished last on two rounds, but was never shooting under par. 

Spieth was, however, shooting from the wrong tee box on Sunday, just to end the weekend as poorly as it started. Coincidentally, Stenson was in the same “cart” and also shot from the same box — they were teeing off from the 17th hole’s box when they were on the ninth hole. As a result, each of them was handed a two-stroke penalty. Spoiler alert: they both had bogeys on that hole — Spieth’s was a triple and Stenson had a double. 

Both players made about $100,000 on the weekend regardless, so I’m sure they’re both laughing about this now over Dom Pérignon, and tipped the cart girl quite generously when she brought it over. 

As this is the last Tee Time with T for this semester, I wish you all a happy holiday season. I hope you find some time to work on your own golf game since the next PGA Tour event isn’t until January. See you on the green in 2022! 

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