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Viktor Hovland won his first Rolex Series title as he completed a sensational finish with a play-off victory over Richard Bland at the 2022 Slync.io Dubai Desert Classic.
The Norwegian was barely in the picture when he missed a short putt and made a bogey on the 15th but he finished birdie-eagle-birdie to sign for a 66 and post the target at 12 under.
Bland joined him in the clubhouse with a birdie-birdie finish of his own in a 68, with two-time champion Rory McIlroy finding water on the last to fall out of the play-off.
Hovland made a two-putt birdie on the first trip back up the 18th and when Bland failed to get up and down after finding a tricky lie with his second, it was the 24-year-old who was left holding the Dallah trophy at Emirates Golf Club.
Rory McIlroy cards 71 on final day
Rory McIlroy signed for a 71 to finish at 11 under, three shots clear of South African pair Justin Harding and Erik van Rooyen, English duo Tyrrell Hatton and Sam Horsfield and Pole Adrian Meronk.
Hovland becomes the first Norwegian to win a Rolex Series event. He adds this title to his maiden DP World Tour victory at the 2021 BMW International Open.
“This is pretty wild,” admitted Hovland. “I didn’t really think this was possible going in today. I knew I had to shoot a really low number but a lot of things had to go my way and thankful that it did.
“I was fuming after the three-putt on 15 and thought that was it. I knew I just had to try to finish off well and get a nice position for the week. I rolled a really long one on 16, and then on 17, and hey, we got a shot.
“I’m pumping right now. It’s a little bit surreal, and it’s hard to kind of calm yourself a little bit but you’ve just got to rely on all the shots that you hit and just go back to what you know.”
Third win in five starts for Hovland
It is his third win in five starts after back-to-back victories in November and December at the World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba and Hero World Challenge, and could move him up to third in the Official World Golf Ranking.
“I have quite a lot to prove to be able to beat those guys (Jon Rahm and Collin Morikawa in the Official World Golf Ranking) but this is a good start and we’ll see what happens.
“I try not to over emphasise the Majors and the big tournaments. Obviously, these are the ones we want to play well in, but you know, this is a really cool week, great field, good course. I try to just prepare myself the best that I can for every single week.”