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Stephen Gallacher: Viktor Hovland is proving why he is the real deal

Viktor Hovland produced a stunning comeback on Sunday
Viktor Hovland produced a stunning comeback on Sunday

I’ve banged the drum for him a few times this year and I’ll say it again – Viktor Hovland is the real deal.

He picked up his fifth professional win in two years with an outstanding six-under-par final round to win the Hero World Challenge on Sunday in spectacular style.

It was an incredible finish to a tournament with overnight leader Collin Morikawa seeing his five-shot lead wiped out to the point he was two shots behind due to two double-bogeys in three holes within the space of half an hour.

Hovland is a terrific player and his ridiculous statistic of one missed cut in 50 events shows how consistent he is.

Had he won a major in the last two years we’d be shouting from the rooftops about him being a new force in the game.

Believe me, it’s coming as there is no doubt as a trend his career is firmly travelling on an upwards trend at this point.

Three PGA Tour wins, a European Tour victory and now the Hero World Challenge all on your list accomplishments by the age of 24? Anybody in the game would be thrilled but it’s not hard to see why the Norwegian is tipped for great things.

He knows how to close out tournaments, he is great to watch and the new world number seven is great for the game.

Morikawa now knows how McIlroy felt in Dubai

While Hovland will be bouncing into 2022 on a high after his fantastic victory Morikawa’s frustration is so similar to the fate which befell Rory McIlroy in Dubai a couple of weeks ago.

Rory had been the odds-on favourite to win the DP World Tour Championship going into the final round but a poor round cost him dear.

It was Morikawa who took advantage to win the tournament and end the 2021 season as the European Tour’s number one.

He now knows exactly how Rory felt after suffering a similar fate on Sunday.

I imagine there was a little bit of fatigue there after what has been an eventful and hugely successful season for the American too but that’s golf.

All it takes is a couple of wayward shots for you and some moments of brilliance from someone else for that five-shot lead to disappear – if not in an instant then certainly in around 30 minutes.

Speith and Stenson unlikely to repeat their incredible mistake

The Hero World Challenge brought a dramatic finish but it was also the tournament which featured a quite remarkable mistake from Jordan Spieth and Henrik Stenson.

The major champions made an incredible error in teeing off from the wrong tee in their final round, incurring two-stroke penalties for their trouble.

The list of things I haven’t done in golf must be fairly short at this stage of my career but playing off the wrong tee in a tournament is on it although I’ve seen it happen before.

It is not uncommon for tee positions to be moved around and that’s what happened on Sunday with the duo moving to what they thought was the ninth tee but had in fact been changed to the 17th tee.

Thankfully both men saw the funny side and their post-round interview is comedy gold with Spieth struggling to keep a straight face while Henrik told the tale of how their error had to pass.

Mercifully, neither man was in contention so it was not a costly error in that respect and I’m just glad they able to see the funny side.

Had it really mattered and they had been in contention I’m pretty sure the post-match discussion would have been somewhat different.

What’s interesting when these things happen is the assumption it’s just the players who messed up.

There would have been at least half a dozen people on that tee when you factor in the players, their respective caddies and the scorers.

A referee would have been somewhere close too and then you have the spectators watching it all and nobody thought to query what was going on? It’s incredible.

Anyway, what’s done is done and I think I can confidently state they won’t make the same mistake twice.

Bryson can still be a box office attraction without the drama

Bryson DeChambeau had an eventful 2021

I’m saddened to hear Bryson DeChambeau say he came close to quitting the game altogether this year due to the criticism he faced.

He has been a controversial figure at times – and goodness knows I’ve been critical of him at times – but he has also done some incredible things in the game.

His outrageous driving, his physical transformation, his rivalry with Brooks Koepka and his failure to shout fore.

It’s all wrapped in one package of high drama and great entertainment.

That’s why he really gave thought to calling it a day saddens me.

In the absence of Tiger Woods, DeChambeau is golf’s box office performer. You watch as you want to see what he is going to do next. He’s been a game changer for golf.

I hope his comments are a sign of maturity on his part. He’s a fiery character at times and maybe he will pause for thought a little more in the future.

It will gain him more fans and less criticism, that’s for sure.

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