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Hovland Sets Course Record To Win, Pano Prevails | Sunday Swing

Hovland Sets Course Record To Win, Pano Prevails | Sunday Swing

Hovland Sets Course Record To Win, Pano Prevails | Sunday Swing

August 21, 2023

Welcome back to another edition of the Sunday Swing presented by 2nd Swing Golf. This week was highlighted by the BMW Championship as the remaining 50 players competed for the top-30 spots at the season finale at East Lake next week. 



BMW Championship - Tournament History 

The BMW Championship was established in 2007 to the PGA Tour, but was previously known as the Western Open which started way back in 1899. It wasn’t always played in the Chicago area, but has made Chicago its home for quite some time now. Other than the Tour’s four major championships, the BMW Championship is the longest standing event played on the PGA Tour. Unlike a typical tour event, the BMW is now the Tour’s second FedEx Cup Playoff event which means only the top 50 FedEx Cup point earners are eligible to play each year. Of those 50, the top 30 will advance to the Tour Championship where the biggest prize pool of the season is up for grabs.  This year the BMW was hosted at Olympia Fields, a suburb of Chicago. The last time the event was here was back in 2020 when Jon Rahm defeated Dustin Johnson in a playoff. 



The Big Swing 

For the second time this summer the Big Swing belongs to the Norwegian, Viktor Hovland. Hovland was one of the many players this week to post four rounds in the 60s, but the only player to shoot a course record on Sunday. Although the field only contained 50 players this week, those 50 are the players who have consistently performed the best throughout the entire season, making the field incredibly stacked. While Hovland just broke through in June at the Memorial for his first big win, he’d have to overcome similar caliber players this week. Hovland opened with a 69 on Thursday, but it was Rory McIlroy and the most recent major winner Brian Harman who held the lead after they shot opening 65s. Also starting strong was Scottie Scheffler, Matt Fitzpatrick, and Sahith Theegala who all carded opening round 66s.


On Friday, Hovland stayed steady and logged a 68, while Max Homa caught fire and shot a 62 to surge up the leaderboard. McIlroy struggled and posted even par 70, while Xander Schauffele also made a big move after a 65. Heading into the weekend, it was setting up to be a shootout between the big dogs including Scheffler, Homa, Fitzpatrick, McIlroy, Harman, and Hovland. 

On moving day, Hovland did just that as he went out and fired a 65 to really get himself into contention heading into Sunday. At the top of the leaderboard there was a two-way tie between Scheffler and Fitzpatrick at 11-under par. Scottie had posted a Saturday 64 while Fitzpatrick carded 66. Both players won their first major championship last year and would have a chance to battle it out in the final pairing on Sunday afternoon.


Hovland started the final round 3 shots back of the duo at the top and would have his work cut out for him if he wanted a chance at catching either one of them. After a respectable opening nine of two-under par 33, he found himself now four shots behind the lead at the turn thanks to more great golf from the leaders. Seemingly out of reach, Hovland went nuclear. He birdied seven of his last nine holes, including Nos. 10, 11, 12, 14, 15, 17, and 18. The only two holes he did not birdie on the back nine were the two par 3s. It would add up to just 28 strokes on the back for a record setting 61 at Olympia Fields.


While Hovland now had a one shot lead in the clubhouse, there was still time for Scheffler or Fitzpatrick to catch him. Scheffler was just one back when he got to the 17th hole and faced about 21 feet for his birdie, but got too aggressive and sent it over four feet by the hole. When the par effort failed to drop, Hovland now sat two shots clear of both. And no, neither player holed out for eagle on the final hole, making Hovland the winner in dramatic fashion.


With the victory, Hovland moved all the way to second in the FedEx Cup standings entering the Tour Championship next week. With the staggered start format of the PGA Tour season finale, Hovland will begin the week at eight-under-par, only trailing Scheffler, who leads the standings and will begin at -10.



Winner’s Bag - Viktor Hovland 

What a week it was for Viktor Hovland and team PING. Hovland caught fire during the final round, carding a course-record 61 at Olympia Fields to win the BMW Championship. Hovland’s bag features primarily PING clubs, but he does have a couple of unique additions to the bag. Off the tee he plays the previous gen PING G425 LST driver (9 degrees). He has a pair of fairway woods -- one being a TaylorMade Stealth Plus 3-wood, and the other a PING G430 Max 7-wood. Leading the top of his iron set is a Titleist U505 utility iron. His exceptional approach play is powered by his set of PING i210 irons, which he used to put on a clinic during his final round. Around the greens is where Hovland really took a big step this year. He plays two PING Glide 4.0 wedges (50 and 56 degrees) as well as a PING Glide 2.0 lob wedge (60 degrees). Hovland also still uses his trusty PING PLD DS 72 prototype putter.



In the World of Women's Golf


The women's professional golf spotlight was on the ISPS HANDA World Invitational, a co-sanctioned event for both the LPGA Tour and the LET (Ladies European Tour). After 72 holes of play, it was American LPGA Tour rookie Alexa Pano, Germany’s Esther Henseleit, and England’s Gabriella Cowley all in a three-way tie at eight-under-par at the top. A sudden death playoff ensued.


Both Pano and Cowley birdied the first playoff hole to stay alive, and then they each made par on the second playoff hole to set up a third playoff hole. Here is when the 19-year-old Pano took the tournament by the horns. She reached the green in two on the par 5, and was able to two-putt for birdie to get the win.


Pano trailed entering the final round, by a six-under-par 66, powered by nine birdies, propelled her to the top of the leaderboard. It was the low round of the day. It's her first win on the LPGA Tour -- and the youngster certainly will have more opportunities for wins in the future.