The 23-year-old continued his excellent start to professional life by clinching his first title on the European Tour
History-Making Viktor Hovland Clinches First European Tour Title
Viktor Hovland overcame an eye injury that forced him to withdraw from the US Open and a cold putter on Sunday to seal a two-shot victory at the BMW International Open and become the first Norwegian player to win on the European Tour.
The 23-year-old, who also claimed Norway’s first PGA Tour title at the 2020 Puerto Rico Open, began the day three clear of Spain’s Jorge Campillo, but his main challenge came from Martin Kaymer, with the German posting a clubhouse target of 17-under, the week after being announced as a Ryder Cup vice-captain.
But it wouldn’t be enough to deny Hovland, who closed with three birdies in his final six to secure the third win of his professional career and first on the tour he regularly watched as an aspiring up-and-comer.
“I grew up watching mostly the European Tour,” Hovland said. “There’s a lot of guys who played this week who I grew up watching. It’s cool to be a champion of this tour, in Germany, in a place that… it’s not in Norway, but it’s close and has some of the same feelings of being home.
“It’s a huge honour and finally Norway has a win on the European Tour.”
Indeed they do, but it didn’t come easy. A bogey at the par-3 2nd was cancelled out at the 5th in an outward half of 36 that opened the door to the chasing pack.
And it was local hero Kaymer who threatened to step through. In fact, when Hovland reached the par-4 13th, the two-time major champion had put the finishing touches to a 10-birdie 64 that vaulted him into a share of the lead.
However, two clutch putts on 13 and 14 – for birdie and par respectively – restored Hovland’s solo advantage before the man from Oslo stuck to his guns on the short par-4 16th, firing a 3-wood straight over the flag and converting the up-and-down to double his lead with two to play.
A three-putt bogey on 17 ensured it was all to play for but two pure shots into the heart of the par-15 18th green guaranteed the victory, which was sealed with a birdie.
“I’m glad it’s over,” Hovland admitted after putting the finishing touches to a closing two-under 70. “It was a long day, very stressful, but it feels great and it’ll be nice to relax for a couple of weeks now.
“I saw he (Kaymer) was creeping up from behind and Jorge was hanging on and after missing a bunch of putts, making the birdie on 13 helped a lot and then the par save on 14, that was big for momentum.
“After that I just tried to play pretty solid golf, not make too many mistakes. I had a three-putt on 17 but great birdies on 16 and 18 so, yeah, it was good enough today.
“I’m looking forward to a couple of weeks at home in Norway to just relax and see my friends then it’s The Open, Olympics, Ryder Cup, there’s so much golf to look forward to – it’s going to be a blast.”
With the win, Hovland has now all but guaranteed his spot on Padraig Harrington’s Ryder Cup team to complete another first for his country as the first Norwegian to play in the contest.
Elsewhere, Campillo finished on his own in third ahead of another Victor, with France’s enigmatic Victor Dubuisson turning in an encouraging display that earned him a fourth-place finish.
Next up is the Irish Open at Mount Juliet that Rory McIlroy headlines before the tour moves to Scotland and then to the final major of the year as the world’s best head to Kent for The Open Championship at Royal St George’s.