Hovland birdied the first extra hole to defeat Bland in a play-off after a dramatic final day in Dubai, where McIlroy missed out by a shot after finding water and making a costly bogey at the par-five 18th
Sunday 30 January 2022 16:11, UK
Viktor Hovland defeated Richard Bland in a play-off to snatch a remarkable victory at the Slync.io Dubai Desert Classic, as Rory McIlroy missed out after a costly finish to his final round.
Hovland overcame a six-stroke deficit on a thrilling final day at Emirates Golf Club, playing his last three holes in four under to close a round-of-the-day 66 to set the clubhouse target at 12 under.
Bland birdied his final two holes on his way to a four-under 68 to join the Norwegian at the top of the leaderboard, with McIlroy set to make it a three-way play-off until squandered a glorious chance to claim a third Dubai title.
McIlroy had the tournament in his hands over the closing holes but needed an incredible save at the par-four 17th to remain tied for the lead going into the final hole, where he found the water with his approach and made a closing bogey to end the week in third spot.
The two leaders returned to the par-five 18th for the play-off, where Bland was unable to get up and down from the left side of the green, as Hovland reached the putting surface in two and two-putted for a winning birdie.
McIlroy matched overnight leader Justin Harding's bogey at the first and missed birdie chances over the next two holes, with the Northern Irishman remaining two behind until a brilliant iron shot from the waste area set up a 20-foot birdie at the sixth.
The former world No 1 rolled in a 30-footer at the par-three next and to find himself tied for the lead alongside Harding and Adrian Meronk, who had followed back-to-back birdies from the second by picking up a shot at the eighth to make it a three-way tie for the top.
Meronk took advantage of a fortunate bounce off a wall to only bogey the ninth but dropped another shot at the par-five tenth, where McIlroy scrambled brilliantly to escape with just a bogey after having to take a penalty drop in the bushes.
A four-shot swing within the final group at the par-three next saw Harding rack up a triple-bogey after two poor shots from the greenside bunkers, as McIlroy holed from 25 feet to jump into a one-shot advantage.
McIlroy's closest challenge came from Bland, who surged into contention with three straight birdies around the turn, while Hovland bounced back from a close-range miss at the 15th to play his last three holes in four under.
Hovland drained a 35-footer at the 16th and holed from a similar distance at the par-four next for eagle after driving the par-four green, before a two-putt birdie at the last saw him join McIlroy - who rolled in from 12 feet at the par-five 13th - on 12 under.
McIlroy safely negotiated the next few holes and produced an incredible save at the par-four 17th, hacking out of bushes and then getting up and down to stay in a share of the lead, while Bland made it a three-way tie at the top after following a birdie at the 17th by rolling in a 25-footer at the last.
Bland and Hovland were waiting on the range as McIlroy elected to attack the final green in two, knowing a birdie would be enough for victory in regulation, only for the 32-year-old to fire his three-wood into the water.
McIlroy could've still salvaged a spot in the play-off by getting up and down from the drop zone, only for him to two-putt for a closing bogey to miss out on a first victory of the season.
English duo Tyrrell Hatton and Sam Horsfield finished tied-fourth alongside Erik van Rooyen, Harding and Meronk, with former Ryder Cup captain Padraig Harrington a further shot back in a share of ninth place.
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