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Conners finishes Mayakoba Golf Classic tied for 17th

Written by Canadian Press with files from Golf Canada
Hector Vivas/Getty Images

PLAYA DEL CARMEN, Mexico — Viktor Hovland of Norway holed a 12-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole Sunday for a 6-under 65 and a one-shot victory in the Mayakoba Golf Classic, his second PGA Tour victory this year.

It was the first time since the Mayakoba Classic began in 2007 that it was won with a birdie putt on the final hole. For the 23-year-old Hovland, it’s old hat. He made a 30-foot birdie putt on the last hole to win the Puerto Rico Open in February.

Aaron Wise closed with a 63 and did everything right over the last two holes except make the birdie putts. Tied for the lead, he missed birdie putts from 12 feet on each of the last two holes at El Camaleon Golf Club.

Corey Connors of Listowel, Ont., was the sole Canadian to play the final round, and shot 66 to finish tied for 17th at 13 under.

Hovland had four birdies in the opening six holes and built a two-shot lead going into the back nine on a course softened by rain that caused a two-hour delay in the morning.

But he made bogey on the 12th hole, and that seemed to create chances for a half-dozen players separated by one shot along the back nine.

Hovland responded with birdies on the next two holes, and he appeared to be in control with a tee shot to 4 feet on the par-3 15th. But he hit a tentative putt to remain tied with Wise, and Hovland thought he was in big trouble when his long iron on the 515-yard 16th hole sailed hard to the right toward the mangrove trees.

It came down in the waste area a few feet from the hazard, and he hit a splendid sand shot to 4 feet to save par.

Hovland, starting his second season on the PGA Tour after a stellar college career at Oklahoma State, finished at 20-under 264 and moved to No. 15 in the world.

That makes three players in the top 15 who were still in college a year ago in May. The others are PGA champion Collin Morikawa and Matthew Wolff, a teammate of Hovland’s at Oklahoma State.

Adam Long (67) and Tom Hoge (69) tied for third at 17-under 267. Hoge holed a 20-foot birdie putt from the fringe on the 15th hole to get within one shot, but he three-putted from some 70 feet on the tough 16th to fall back. Long lost hope when he sent his tee shot into the vegetation on the 17th hole and took bogey.

Emiliano Grillo, who led after the second and third rounds, closed with a 72 and tied for eighth, five shots behind. Justin Thomas got back to the fringe of contention with a 62 on Saturday, and the world’s No. 3 player followed that with a 69, making double bogey on No. 10 to end his chances.

This was the final PGA Tour event of the year, one last chance for players who either qualify for the Sentry Tournament of Champions at Kapalua or lock up a spot in the Masters next year. Neither was an issue for Hovland, who qualified for Maui with his win in Puerto Rico and was set for Augusta National by reaching the Tour Championship his rookie season.

Austin Eckroat of Oklahoma State had a 67-65 weekend and tied for 12th.

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