He was right there the whole time. On a weekend where Jon Rahm was the +500 favorite, world #2 Scottie Scheffler was +800, and the red-hot Tony Finau was +900, it was Viktor Hovland who successfully defended his 2021 Hero World Challenge title with a repeat win at the Albany Golf Club in the Bahamas.
Hovland was a puzzling +1200 this weekend, even as the defending champion, with Xander Schauffele (+1100) and Justin Thomas (+1100) also ahead of him on the odds board.
Sure it’s tough to go back-to-back at a tournament, and this was a very good 20-person field, but Hovland felt a bit underappreciated by the oddsmakers – but he did get the last laugh.
Hovland Comes Through
The Hero World Challenge is an interesting tournament, as it’s not a points event for the PGA Tour, although Hovland did claim a nice $1 million purse for the win and did pick up OWGR points to climb inside the top 10.
Many people saw Hovland coming at +1100; he shot 18 under at Albany last season, leading the field with an 84.6% driving accuracy. Hovland held off Scheffler by a stroke in the 2021 Hero World Challenge, and that duo was going back and forth again on Sunday, with Scheffler claiming another runner-up, this time two strokes back.
Hovland’s driving accuracy slipped to 76.9% in this year’s event, but that was still the sixth-best in the field. His GIR was 63.9% which was fourth best in the field. Another reason Hovland had incredible value at +1100 is because he’s gone back-to-back at a tournament before winning the 2020 and 2021 events at Mayakoba.
Pretty Solid Calendar Year for Scheffler
Scheffler pulled to within a tie at one point on Sunday in the Bahamas, but Hovland was determined and got the win despite a bogey on the 72nd hole. Scheffler is now just three strokes away from being the back-to-back Hero World Challenge winner, but that’s how this game plays out some (many) weekends.
The Hero World Challenge was the last individual event of the 2022 calendar year, with next weekend’s QBE Shootout being a team tournament. That puts a bow on 2022 for Scheffler in what has to be considered one of the best calendar years in history.
Scheffler claimed the very popular WM Phoenix Open this year and followed that up a few weeks later with a victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Scheffler then added a WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play win to his mantle before putting on the green jacket with a Masters win in April.
There were some heartaches for Scheffler in 2022 as well, including a runner-up at the U.S. Open, losing on a hole-out to Sam Burns in the playoff at the Charles Schwab Challenge, and letting Rory McIlroy overtake him for the FedEx Cup Championship, but that’s still a good year to build on for the 26-year-old.
Looking Ahead to 2023
Cameron Young finished third at the Hero World Challenge, capping off an incredible – if not hard luck – rookie campaign. Young had five runner-up finishes in the 2021/22 season, and two more 3rd place finishes. You can say it every week, but it’s a matter of when, not if, Young gets his first TOUR victory.