Golf Roundup: Viktor Hovland’s pristine 61 wins BMW Championship

AP photo by Charles Rex Arbogast / Viktor Hovland, right, hugs his caddie Shay Knight after closing out a course-record 61 and a victory Sunday in the PGA Tour's BMW Championship in Olympia Fields, Ill.

OLYMPIA FIELDS, Ill. — Viktor Hovland kept hitting every shot just the way he wanted on the back nine at Olympia Fields Country Club. Rory McIlroy was keeping his card and kept writing "3" in just about every box.

Hovland delivered the best round of his PGA Tour career at just the right time Sunday, turning a two-man race into a one-man show by breaking the North Course record with a 9-under-par 61 to surge past American star Scottie Scheffler and England's Matt Fitzpatrick to win the BMW Championship.

The previous mark of 62 was set and matched during the tournament on the rain-softened layout, by Max Homa on Friday and Sam Burns on Saturday. Hovland was so close to perfection that he birdied all but two holes on the back nine.

"When I made the putt on 15 for birdie, I felt like, 'OK, we've got a chance now if I can finish pretty well,'" Hovland said. "Then you never know what's going to happen behind you."

What happened behind him was nothing special. Scheffler holed enough putts to lead by two at one point, but he missed the ones that really mattered: six feet for birdie on the par-3 16th to stay with Hovland, and then a three-putt from 20 feet on the 17th for bogey.

Fitzpatrick had an eight-hole stretch in the middle of his round that he played in 1 over, and then two birdies late at least kept him in the game. He and Scheffler each closed with a 66 to share second place and leave the Chicago-area course feeling helpless.

"Can't do anything about 61. I did just see Viktor — I called him a little (expletive)," Fitzpatrick said with a grin. "But for me, just really pleased again that I played really well, final round in contention with world No. 1, and I didn't lose it. Someone else came from behind and won it."

Even on soft turf, Scheffler was mystified by the low scores and could only applaud Hovland, especially on a Sunday. It was the lowest closing round by a PGA Tour winner this year and a career-best for the 25-year-old from Norway.

"That has to be the best round I've ever played," Hovland said. "Given the circumstances — a playoff event, this golf course — the way I played the last holes was pretty special."

Hovland won for the second time this year and now has five victories on the PGA Tour.

"I'm just a bit frustrated. I think that would be the way to describe it," Scheffler said. "Viktor went out and really just beat me today and played a fantastic round. I can hold my head high. I did my best out there today and fought hard. Just ultimately came up a couple shots short."

In the second of three tournaments in the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup postseason, the drama came from everywhere else.

Jordan Spieth bogeyed his last two holes for a 71 and was on the verge of falling out of the top 30 in the standings who make it to the Tour Championship, which starts Thursday at Atlanta's East Lake Golf Club. And then Denny McCarthy made three bogeys over his last seven holes to fall out.

The cruelest fate of all was suffered by Sahith Theegala. He ran off three straight birdies through the 17th hole and was projected to be in the top 30. But he took a bogey on the last hole, while Patrick Cantlay, in his group, made a birdie. They tied for 15th, and that bogey-birdie combination was enough to end Theegala's season.

Sepp Straka wound up getting the 30th spot by nine points over Theegala.

Scheffler, in a small consolation, will be the No. 1 seed at East Lake for the second straight year. That means he starts the tournament at 10 under, two shots ahead of Hovland.

McIlroy, who shot a 66 and finished fourth at the BMW Championship, is the No. 3 seed, followed by Jon Rahm and Lucas Glover.

Baylor School graduate Harris English (66) tied for 10th at 7 under, moving up from 49th in the standings to 38th, not enough to extend his season.

For all the FedEx Cup possibilities that played out over some six hours, Fitzpatrick was the only player who worked his way into the top 30 who head to Atlanta for a shot at the $18 million bonus. He started at No. 40 and moved up to No. 10.

  photo  AP photo by Charles Rex Arbogast / Matt Fitzpatrick lines up his birdie putt on the ninth hole at Olympia Fields Country Club during Sunday's final round of the BMW Championship, the second of three events in the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup postseason.

In Tiger territory

CHERRY HILLS VILLAGE, Colo. — Nick Dunlap capped a big summer with his biggest title yet, winning the U.S. Amateur at Cherry Hills Country Club to join Tiger Woods as the only players to win the U.S. Amateur and the U.S. Junior Amateur.

Dunlap, a 19-year-old from Hunstville, Alabama, never trailed in his 4-and-3 victory over Neal Shipley, though the 36-hole final was tied after 18 holes in a morning of golf so exquisite they produced 11 birdies between them. It got a little sloppy at the end, but only after Dunlap seized control.

He was 4 up with four holes to play when Shipley failed to birdie the par-3 15th hole to extend the match.

Dunlap, a sophomore at the University of Alabama, won the U.S. Junior at the Country Club of North Carolina two years ago. Woods famously won three straight U.S. Juniors followed by three straight U.S. Amateur titles.

"I think it's only a third of what he's done," Dunlap said. "Just to be in the same conversation with Tiger is a dream come true and something I've worked for my whole life."

Dunlap, No. 9 in the World Amateur Golf rankings, posted back-to-back wins this summer in the Northeast Amateur at Wannamoisett and the North & South Amateur at Pinehurst, two of the more prestigious amateur events in America. He already was selected for the Walker Cup team this year, which will be held at St. Andrews in Scotland, and he improved his record in match play to 30-2 dating to 2021.

The victory sends Dunlap to the Masters, U.S. Open and British Open next year. Shipley, 22 and a graduate student at Ohio State, gets into the Masters.

  photo  AP file photo by Matt York / Alabama golfer Nick Dunlap won the U.S. Amateur on Sunday in Cherry Hills Village, Colo. Dunlap, from Huntsville, previously won the U.S. Junior Amateur and matched Tiger Woods as the only player to win both titles. Woods won three straight of each.

It's her birthday

BALLYMENA, Northern Ireland — American golfer Alexa Pano celebrated her 19th birthday by beating England's Gabriella Cowley on the third hole of a playoff to win the ISPS Handa World Invitational, while Daniel Brown wrapped up a five-shot victory in the men's field at the same event.

Pano shot a 6-under 66 in the final round for a three-way tie with Cowley (70) and Germany's Esther Henseleit (69) at 8-under 281 in the 72-hole tournament co-sanctioned by the LPGA Tour and the DP World Tour, the Europe-based men's circuit.

Cowley led after the third round but needed an eagle on the 18th to make the playoff, where Henseleit was eliminated on the first extra hole. Cowley then missed a three-foot birdie putt for the win on the second playoff hole, and Pano took full advantage by making a birdie when the players returned to the par-five 18th for a third time.

The 28-year-old Brown's victory, his first on the DP World Tour, was a lot more straightforward he led from day one and closed with a 1-under 69 to finish at 15-under 266, with Alex Fitzpatrick (68) second as English players took the top two spots.

Brown started the day with a six-shot lead, which was briefly cut to two strokes before he pulled away with three birdies in the last four holes.

The tournament was staged at the parkland Galgorm Castle Golf Club and the links at Castlerock Golf Club, with different pars and yardages for men and women. Everybody played one round at each venue over the first two days before all the action took place at Galgorm for the final two rounds.

Birdie for the win

CALGARY — Ken Duke sank a five-foot birdie putt on the last hole to win the Shaw Charity Classic and earn his first PGA Tour Champions victory.

The 54-year-old Arkansas native closed with a 4-under 66 for a one-shot victory over Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand (62) and Tim Petrovic (69), who started the final round in the lead but had to play out of the rough on the closing hole, a par-5, and failed to make a birdie that might have forced a playoff.

Duke rolled in his birdie putt, took a step toward the hole with a big fist pump and began to celebrate his breakthough win on the 50-and-older circuit. His lone PGA Tour victory was 10 years ago at the Travelers Championship. And it was meaningful to win for the first time in Canada, where he began his career and won twice on what now is PGA Tour Canada.

"I've always dreamed about this. This is where I started my professional career up here in Canada, and I always thought that I'd win up here, and here we are," Duke said, alluding to the seven years he spent up north.

He finished the 54-hole tournament at 14-under 196.