Viktor Hovland captures BMW Championship, shoots final-round 61: What it means for the world No. 5

Viktor Hovland captured the BMW Championship on Sunday, the second leg of the FedEx Cup playoffs. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Hovland shot a 9-under-par 61, which included seven birdies on the back nine, in the final round. His round is the lowest-ever at Olympia Fields for a major or PGA Tour event.
  • The 25-year-old fended off major champions Scottie Scheffler and Matt Fitzpatrick, who both finished T-2 at 15 under par. Scheffler and Fitzpatrick each shot 66.
  • With the win, Hovland has five PGA Tour titles. It’s his second victory in 2023, his first coming at the Memorial Tournament.
  • Hovland rises to No. 2 in the FedEx Cup standings entering the final tournament of the season next week, the Tour Championship.

The Athletic’s instant analysis:

What this means for Hovland

The Norwegian once saddled with the reputation of a player always in the hunt but never capable of winning a full-field, full-stakes tournament has to be considered in a different light. He won the Memorial Tournament in June, beating Denny McCarthy in a playoff (with Scheffler a stroke behind). Then he did what he did Sunday at the BMW Championship, the penultimate FedEx Cup playoffs event. A 61? A back-nine 28? Good lord. That’s one of the rounds of the year, if not the round of the year. Then consider that he rocketed his way past Scheffler, Rory McIlroy, Fitzpatrick and more in the process. Yes, the 25-year-old Hovland has very much found another gear to his game. — Kellenberger

What this means for Scheffler

Questions about his putter are going to continue to dog the No. 1 player in the world as he heads to East Lake and the Tour Championship, and then the Ryder Cup next month. The putt on No. 17 for par was eminently makeable. So was the birdie putt on No. 18. A lot of putting stats can be noisy — you make one long one and it can throw off the stats for a single round. But look at the big picture — he’s No. 231 in strokes gained putting right now, per DataGolf, tied with Stephen Gallacher and Dean Burmester, among others. Yikes. It’s a remarkable testament to the rest of his game that he was still T2 at the BMW and the No. 1 player entering the Tour Championship. But some nervy putts are coming at Marco Simone. Does Scheffler need to steal Lucas Glover’s long putter? — Kellenberger

What’s next

The top 30 players will compete for the big money prize at East Lake, with Scheffler, Hovland and McIlroy out in front of the other 27 due to the staggered scoring system. Jordan Spieth will be there, hanging in at No. 29 after a T34 at the BMW. Sam Burns started the week on the bubble and a Saturday 62 is the reason why he has made it. Chris Kirk is the only one to fall out, with Fitzpatrick’s T2 finish jumping him 30 spots to 10th.

As far as the Ryder Cup, Max Homa (T5) and Xander Schauffele (T8) are now projected to claim the fifth and six automatic picks for the United States team, pushing Brooks Koepka out. Captain Zach Johnson will have to use a captain’s selection on the PGA champion. — Kellenberger

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(Photo: Michael Reaves / Getty Images)

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