Hovland claims solo lead after 36 holes at Hero World Challenge

By Sports Desk December 02, 2022

Viktor Hovland is alone atop the Hero World Challenge leaderboard after Friday's second round, following his opening 69 with a two-under 70 to enter the weekend at five under.

Hovland, who was the joint-leader entering the day, is the reigning champion at the event after edging Scottie Scheffler by one stroke at Albany Golf Course in the Bahamas last year.

In an action-packed second round, the Norwegian posted an eagle with four birdies and four bogeys, with his slam-dunk shot of the day on the par-five sixth hole making it back-to-back rounds with an eagle.

He is one stroke clear of a four-man group consisting of Scheffler, Xander Schauffele, Cameron Young and Collin Morikawa, with playing partners Scheffler and Schauffele posting four-under 68s to tie for the round of the day.

South Korean 20-year-old Tom Kim is the only player in sixth at three under, Justin Thomas is alone at two-under, and Billy Horschel is tied with Tiger Woods' late replacement Sepp Straka for eighth at one under.

It leaves 11 of the 20-player field at least five strokes off Hovland's lead, with Matt Fitzpatrick, Tony Finau and Jon Rahm at even par.

It was a day to forget for Tommy Fleetwood, Corey Conners, Max Homa and Shane Lowry, with all four shooting their way out of contention with rounds of four over or worse.

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  • 'I know who I am' – Reed shrugs off tree controversy after McIlroy wins Dubai battle 'I know who I am' – Reed shrugs off tree controversy after McIlroy wins Dubai battle

    Patrick Reed relished an "epic battle" with Rory McIlroy and shrugged off another controversy by stating "I know who I am" after missing out on a Dubai Desert Classic victory.

    Reed has been in the spotlight at Emirates Golf Club after the American threw a tee towards McIlroy, having been snubbed for a handshake following a dispute between the pair.

    LIV Golf star Reed was the centre of attention again on Sunday when he took an unplayable penalty drop after his ball got lodged in a tree, with question marks raised over whether it was in fact his ball he had identified by using binoculars.

    When the tournament finally came to an end on Monday as a result of poor weather last week, Reed carded a seven-under 65 to ramp up the pressure on McIlroy.

    A birdie at the 18th for Reed drew him level with the Northern Irishman at the top of the leaderboard, but McIlroy sunk a putt from 15 feet for a gain of his own to finish on 19 under with a round of 68 and take the title.

    McIlroy had put a stray tee shot just short of the water at the last hole, but got himself out of trouble to seal a third Dubai Desert Classic win that he said was all the sweeter given he denied Reed.

    Reed said: "I knew what I had to do early. I went out there and I put the pressure on him. Being four back of a guy like Rory is not easy.

    "I battled it out, but missed a great opportunity on 15. The only real bad shot I hit was the tee shot on 16 [which resulted in his only bogey of the day]. Ended up behind the tree."

    On the subject of trees, Reed was unperturbed over questions being raised about his integrity on Sunday.

    "I don't really look at media or social media whenever I'm playing a tournament," he said. "Normally it's always negative, so I try to stay away from it.

    "I've heard about it, but really all I can say is that I looked through the binoculars, identified my golf ball and explained what my markings were to the rules official. He looked and he identified [the ball] exactly the same way I did."

    He added: "The good thing is I know who I am. All I can do is focus on my golf and focus on me. Felt like I've done that this week. Felt like I played great.

    "It always seems to come down to Rory and I. We love to put on a good show. Unfortunately, I was on the wrong end of this one. Hats off to him, he played some great golf, especially on the weekend.

    "It would have been even better if both of us were in the same group. But whenever he and I are battling, we have fun and epic battles."

  • LIV Golf 2023 tournament schedule confirmed LIV Golf 2023 tournament schedule confirmed

    The LIV Golf Invitational tournament schedule for 2023 has been confirmed.

    The breakaway tour, headed up by Greg Norman and backed by Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF), started last year and caused ripples across the world of golf.

    High-profile players such as Sergio Garcia, Patrick Reed, Cameron Smith, Bryson DeChambeau and Dustin Johnson signed up for the lucrative competition, leaving the PGA Tour in the process.

    On Monday, the 14 tournaments were confirmed, with the events set to take place across seven different nations.

    Five venues that were on last year's slate return for 2023, with the Centurion Golf Club close to London, the Trump National Golf Club Bedminster in New Jersey, Rich Harvest Farms in Illinois, Trump National Doral Golf Club in Miami and Jeddah's Royal Greens Golf and Country Club all making a comeback.

    The LIV Golf Invitational Bangkok, LIV Golf International Portland and LIV Golf International Boston are not returning this year, though 

    New venues include Orange County National in Orlando and the Trump National Golf Club in Washington D.C. – another course owned by the former United States president Donald Trump.

    Seven venues had previously been confirmed prior to Monday's announcement.

    The 2023 season will start at El Camaleon Golf Course in Mexico in late February, and end in Jeddah in November.

    Eight of the tournaments will take place in the USA, with one each in Mexico, Spain, Singapore, Australia, Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom.

    LIV Golf 2023 schedule

    LIV Golf Mayakoba, Playa del Carmen, Mexico (February 24-26)
    LIV Golf Tuscon, Arizona, USA (March 17-19)
    LIV Golf Orlando, Florida, USA (March 31-Apr 2)
    LIV Golf Adelaide, Adelaide, Australia (April 21-23)
    LIV Golf Singapore, Singapore (April 28-30)
    LIV Golf Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA (May 26-28)
    LIV Golf Valderrama, Andalucia, Spain (June 30-July 2)
    LIV Golf London, Hertfordshire, UK (July 7-9)
    LIV Golf Greenbrier, West Virginia, USA (August 4-6)
    LIV Golf Bedminster, New Jersey, USA (August 11-13)
    LIV Golf Chicago, Illinois, USA (September 22-24)
    LIV Golf Miami, Florida, USA (October 20-22)
    LIV Golf Team Championship, King Abdullah Economic City, Saudi Arabia (November 3-5)

  • McIlroy: Dubai Desert Classic triumph over Reed 'sweeter than it should be or needs to be' McIlroy: Dubai Desert Classic triumph over Reed 'sweeter than it should be or needs to be'

    Rory McIlroy said his victory over Patrick Reed at the Dubai Desert Classic was "sweeter than it should be or needs to be".

    World number one McIlroy clinched his third title at the event in a thrilling final round, making a fine birdie at the last hole on Monday to fend off rival Reed.

    Prior to the tournament American and LIV Golf defector Reed labelled McIlroy an "immature little child" for blanking him at the practice range and was also alleged to have thrown a tee at the Northern Irishman.

    McIlroy said Reed's lawyer served him with court papers on Christmas Eve, although Reed said he was not behind the subpoena, with the case concerned being one brought by American attorney Larry Klayman relating to divisions between LIV Golf and the PGA Tour.

    Reed was involved in more controversy on Sunday when he took an unplayable penalty drop after his ball got lodged in a tree, with question marks raised over whether it was in fact his ball he had identified by using binoculars.

    But McIlroy, considered by some as the PGA Tour's de facto spokesperson since LIV Golf's breakaway, came out on top in scintillating fashion.

    "I think mentally today was probably one of the toughest rounds I've had to play, it would have been really easy to let emotions get in the way," he told DP World Tour media.

    "I had to really concentrate on focusing on myself, forget who was up there on the leaderboard and I did that really, really well.

    "I think I showed a lot of mental strength out there today and something to build on for the rest of the year.

    "There's been a ton of positives this year, but also some things to learn from and improve on.

    "I'm going to enjoy this, this is probably sweeter than it should be or needs to be but I feel like I've still got some stuff to work on.

    "It's a great start to the year and a good foundation to work from."

    McIlroy took a three-shot advantage into the final round, but victory could have slipped from his grasp when a tee shot held up close to the water on the 18th.

    Yet the 33-year-old kept his cool to set up a 15-foot putt, which he sunk to avoid a play-off.

    "Honestly I feel like I got lucky my ball didn't go in the water off the tee shot, it's such an awkward tee shot, driver's too much, three wood's not enough. I tried to hit an easy driver and it came off too hot," McIlroy said.

    "I really only had one choice, to lay up and try to get up and down that way. I said yesterday with the two balls in the water on Sunday last year and yesterday, fool me once shame on me, fool me twice… I wasn't going to get fooled a third time."

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