2023 Memorial Tournament leaderboard: Viktor Hovland wins first PGA Tour event since 2021 in playoff
Hovland took down Denny McCarthy to cash a $3.6 million winner's share in a one-hole playoff at Muirfield Village
In front of the Golden Bear himself, Viktor Hovland claimed the 2023 Memorial Tournament on Sunday by winning a one-hole playoff over Denny McCarthy. Hovland notched his fourth career victory on the PGA Tour and first since 2021 by outmaneuvering the Virginia graduate with a par on their second playing of the 18th hole. In doing so, the Norwegian raised the biggest trophy of his young career and signaled to the world that his surging play on golf's biggest stage has been no fluke.
"I've been playing well, but I've just been trying to stay within myself and play my own game," said Hovland after the round. "Maybe before I would have fired at some pins that I shouldn't have fired at. I just played smart, played my game and came up clutch this time. It feels even better after some close calls the last few months."
Contending with top-seven finishes in each of the last three major championships, Hovland has received the short end of the stick his fair share of times. Staring Brooks Koepka in the eyes for 15 holes at the 2023 PGA Championship before disaster struck, he utilized the experience less than a month later to leapfrog 54-hole co-leader Rory McIlroy, skirt past a historic tee-to-green performance from Scottie Scheffler and ultimately get the better of McCarthy in extra holes.
For much of the day, Hovland just kind of hung around. Clutch par saves and a timely birdie early in his round maintained his place in the leaders' rearview mirror. However, two bogeys before the turn dropped Hovland's name tumbling down the leaderboard.
As all the greats do, Hovland rebounded and showed the resolve of a champion. Four back-nine birdies propelled the 25-year-old back into contention with an emphatic par -breaker coming late on the difficult 17th -- the lone birdie on the hole in Round 4. A par on the last and a par on the first playoff hole secured a victory for Hovland for the fourth straight season.
A known stud and a ruthless killer behind his wide smile, Hovland and his patience finally paid dividends. It was only a matter of time. Taking an analytical approach to his game and finding issues with some of his shot selections, the former U.S. Amateur champion chose a new method through which to attack golf course.
Pound fairways, pound greens and hope the putter gets hot — it's what all the greats have done, especially when the conditions are at their hardest. Gone are the days of flagging sucker pins and compounding one mistake with another. A new day has arrived and with it has come a mature Hovland capable of being one of the world's best (if he isn't already). Grade: A+
Here is a breakdown of the full leaderboard at the 2023 Memorial Tournament
2. Denny McCarthy (-7): It was his tournament to win on the back nine and he acquitted himself quite nicely for most of it. Clutch par saves on 12, 15 and 16 gave him leeway coming down the stretch before his lone dropped shot of the day came on the 72nd hole. The timing couldn't have been worse, but it marks another instance of McCarthy contending in a big-time tournament. While he may not have a victory, McCarthy has a wealth of experience under his belt, and this close call should only help him in the future. Grade: A+
3. Scottie Scheffler (-6): After making the cut on the number, the world No. 1 played his final 36 holes in 9 under to catapult himself into contention. He would have been the first player since Brandt Snedeker at the 2016 Farmers Insurance Open to enter the winner's circle after entering the weekend right on the cutline. Despite coming up short, the tee-to-green metrics Scheffler posted were downright rude. Unfortunately for Scheffler, the putter was even ruder as an average week on the greens would have meant a win by a half dozen (a similar story to the Charles Schwab Challenge). Here are some of the best nuggets from Scheffler's performance and the streak he is currently on. Grade: A-
T5. Jordan Spieth (-4): Incredibly, Spieth led the field in strokes gained off the tee, which is normally an automatic win for him. He didn't win, but he has erased any talk of the wrist injury going to the U.S. Open at Los Angeles Country Club, where he'll have a better-than-usual chance at winning his second U.S. Open. He didn't truly threaten to win the tournament this week, but after missing two cuts over his last three events, this drew me back in for the rest of his summer. It's a summer Spieth said he wants to improve upon from recent years.
"One thing I'm looking forward to this year is when you get to that Scottish British through the playoffs and then hopefully the Ryder Cup, you know, that's been a time period the last two years where the playoffs, I didn't play as well as I'd really like to," Spieth told Smylie Kaufman this week on The Smylie Show.
"That was kind of a few of the worst events of my season the last two years in two pretty good seasons. I'm going to be preparing with that in mind to try and really look at this back half of this year as trying to improve on the front half and not kind of be stagnant, not be okay with the year, you know what I mean? I've just gotten in this frame of mind, like, I want to win every single week more than anybody else, I promise you, but I don't have to win to feel that I was successful in a way. And that's where I think things have changed. Like, I played way better at Hilton Head this year than I did last year, and I won last year, and I didn't win this year. So that just happens some years, you know?" Grade: A
T7. Rory McIlroy (-3): He had won five of the last six times he played in the final group in the final round on the PGA Tour, but, with a 75 in the final round, it was not meant to be at Jack's Place. He would have joined illustrious company with a victory and jumpstarted a somewhat mundane calendar year. It has been a quiet year, yes, and perhaps disappointing with missed cuts the Players Championship and the Masters, but McIlroy has also flashed his world-class form at three of the designated events and the PGA Championship. The main culprit on Sunday were the wedges as ill-advised approach shots on the two par 5s on the front nine and a litany on the back side led to dropped shots when birdie must have been on the mind. Grade: B+
T9. Rickie Fowler (-2): Fowler's resurgent season continued and took a massive step in the right direction as he finally found his name in the mix on the back nine Sunday – the first instance since the 2022 Zozo Championship. Fowler missed a 4-foot birdie bid on the 11th which would have pushed him to 6 under and made some crucial mistakes coming home, but the experience will serve him well. He now has 12 top-20 finishes this season in 17 tournaments. We will see him next in his home state of California for his first U.S. Open appearance since 2020. Grade: B+
T16. Jon Rahm (E): There was plenty of good and plenty of bad for Rahm this week. His iron play was red hot as he gained more than 10 strokes with his scoring clubs and ranked behind only Scheffler in terms of strokes gained approach. The driver wasn't as cooperative as we have grown accustomed to, and the short game continues to quietly trend in a downwards direction. It has been poor for his standards since donning the green jacket and will need to be better if he is to win in Los Angeles for the second time this season at the U.S. Open. Grade: C+
MC. Justin Thomas (--): You must wonder what the level of concern is in the Thomas camp. On a second-shot golf course, the two-time PGA Championship winner never sniffed the cutline and marked his second weekend omission in his last five starts. When it comes down to it, Thomas just can't piece the entirety of his game together for a whole tournament. One day his iron play cooperates, the next it doesn't, and the same goes for the putter. It has now been a year since he has contended on the PGA Tour late on Sunday. Grade: F
Viktor Hovland battles from behind at the Memorial and gets his first big win at Muirfield Village. Rick Gehman is joined by Kyle Porter, Mark Immelman and Patrick McDonald to break down Viktor's win, McCarthy's gutsy play and another wild Scottie Scheffler week. Follow & listen to The First Cut on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.
Hovland finds the left side of the fairway although his ball is rested up against the first cut and could prove troublesome. Meanwhile, Denny over corrects and finds the right rough. It's a crapshoot over there and the lie did not look to kind.
Viktor Hovland Defeats Denny McCarthy In Playoff To Win Memorial Tournament
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