There is nothing in golf quite like The Masters.

Arguably the most prestigious of the majors, Augusta National becomes the centre of the sporting world once more over the weekend, as the famous green jacket goes up for grabs again.

In 1997, Tiger Woods won his first major when he triumphed in Georgia, and 25 years on he is set to make a sensational comeback from injury.

But Woods is not the only name to look out for.

 

The favourites

Let's start from the top. Scottie Scheffler is the world's new number one and he heads into the weekend on the back of three victories in his last five events, having not finished worse than T-19th in his six major appearances since 2020.

Scheffler said he has been resting up at home ahead of travelling to Augusta, where he joked he has already been brought down a peg or two.

He told Sky Sports: "I've been humbled a couple of times already, showing up here. The guy who picked me up in the cart this morning called me Xander, so that brought me down to earth real quick! It's been great, really looking forward to this week."

The Xander in question is Xander Schauffele. He finished T3 last year, three shots back from the champion Hideki Matsuyama, and was looking good on his final round until he sent a ball into the water on the 16th, but he won gold at the Tokyo Olympics and comes into the tournament in strong form.

Reigning champion Matsuyama cast doubt over his participation when he withdrew from the Texas Open with a neck problem, meanwhile, which may hinder his title defence.

 

Brooks Koepka has won four majors, but did not make the cut last year and will be out to put that right this time around, having defeated Jon Rahm in the WGC-Match Play last 16. 

Rahm has finished in the top 10 in each of his last four Masters appearances. However, the Spaniard has not won a tournament since triumphing in the US Open last year, but did secure a place in the top 10 in all four of last year's majors.

Dustin Johnson failed to make the cut in 2021 in a torrid title defence. He had dropped out of the top 10 up until an impressive performance at the WGC-Match Play moved him up to number eight, and he'll be determined to rekindle the form that saw him clinch the green jacket in 2020.

Viktor Hovland is ranked fourth in the world, though his weak chipping game may prove costly to his chances at Augusta, while Collin Morikawa cannot be discounted for a third major title and Justin Thomas will be out to win a second major having won the US PGA Championship in 2017.

 

The outsiders

Augusta is where golfers can shoot to stardom over the course of four spectacular days, and there will be plenty of the field who fancy their chances despite not being among the bookmakers' favourites.

One such player capable of a challenge is Cameron Smith. The Australian is ranked at a career-high six, won the Players' Championship last month and has finished inside the top 10 in three of the last four Masters.

Will Zalatoris, meanwhile, comes into the weekend with the best SG (strokes gained, which compares a player's score to the field average) tee-to-green* statistics on the PGA Tour this season, with his 1.767 average just edging out Thomas, and he came second on his Masters debut in 2021.

Zalatoris only has one pro win to his name so far but the 25-year-old has largely impressed at the majors. He finished T2 in 2021 at Augusta and T8 in last year's PGA Championship, while recording a T6 finish in the 2020 US Open.

Rory McIlroy's Masters record is frustrating. It is the only major the former world number one has not yet won. He finished in the top 10 six times between 2014 and 2020 before missing the cut last year, and now he'll have another stab at sealing a career Grand Slam, though his best finish this season has been third in the Dubai Desert Classic.

 

Only five players have previously completed a clean sweep of the majors, and McIlroy has not won one of the big four events since 2014.

Russell Henley will feature for the first time since 2018 after 12 top 10 finishes in the past year, and he has finished in the top 25 at Augusta three times, while Bryson DeChambeau is going to compete despite missing a chunk of the season with a hip problem. He finished T46 on three-over-par in 2021.

Marc Leishman finished fifth a year ago, improving on T13 from 2020, and Sergio Garcia will at least hope to make the cut for the first time since he won in 2017. Perhaps if the Spaniard can just make the weekend, he can go all the way again?

 

The return of the king

As far as comeback stories go in sport, Woods has already provided one of the very best.

In 2019, against all odds following years of back issues and surgery to fix the problems, Woods won The Masters for a fifth time in his illustrious career, taking his total of major victories to 15. He trails only Jack Nicklaus in that regard.

But this comeback might just top the lot.

The 46-year-old admitted he cheated death in a major single-car crash in February 2021, which left him with serious leg and foot injuries. Woods was unable to walk unaided for several months and has not played serious golf since, but he is all set for a remarkable return on the biggest stage of them all.

It will be his first appearance in any tournament since he played at Augusta in November 2020. Since winning his maiden major a quarter of a century ago, Woods has claimed nine more major titles than any other player, while he is one of only three players to win successive Masters titles (2001 and 2002).

Woods has never failed to make the cut in 21 appearances, and even if he does not challenge at the top of the leaderboard this time around (though you would not put it past him) his comeback is already the story of the weekend.

 

After two years of disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic, things are back to normal at Augusta National for this year's much-anticipated Masters – though choosing a winner is as tough as ever.

Dustin Johnson won the delayed 2020 event with a record score after it was pushed back by seven months from its usual slot, while Hideki Matsuyama made history of his own last year by becoming the first Japanese male to win a major.

Matsuyama's triumph was a memorable one, albeit with only a limited number of patrons present in Georgia due to social distancing measures being in place, though the build-up to his title defence has been far from ideal as he continues to battle a back injury.

Golf's elite can look forward to the return of spectators for the 86th edition of the most prestigious tournament of them all – and if excitement was not already at fever pitch, Augusta could also see the return of Tiger Woods, who has not played on the PGA Tour since November 2020 after being involved in a car accident.

But exactly who is best placed to claim the green jacket in the first major of the year? The expert team at Stats Perform have a go at answering that question ahead of the tee off on Thursday.

RAHM TO ADD TO US OPEN SUCCESS – Daniel Lewis

Despite being usurped by Scottie Scheffler at the top of the Official World Golf Ranking after an admittedly slow start to the year, Jon Rahm remains the man to beat heading into the Masters. The 27-year-old has posted top-four finishes in each major, while also finishing inside the top 10 in each of his last five participations. Following his success at the US Open at Torrey Pines 10 months ago, this is Rahm's time to shine at Augusta. 

SMITH TO GO ONE BETTER THAN 2020 – Patric Ridge

Less than a month on from his triumph at the Players' Championship, world number six Cameron Smith seems well placed to go on and seal a maiden major triumph. The Australian finished T2 at Augusta in 2020, albeit five strokes back from Johnson. But he comes into this tournament ranked higher than ever before in his career, and the 28-year-old has won two of the five events he has featured in this year. A T10 placing in last year's Masters will have been a disappointment, but Smith has the tools, and the form, to challenge this time around.

GOOD WILL HUNTING FOR GREEN JACKET – Peter Hanson

A year ago, you could be forgiven for not knowing a lot about Will Zalatoris. But the then 24-year-old finished just one stroke shy of eventual winner Matsuyama, and his clean ball striking will be a big advantage on a typically unforgiving Augusta course. Voted PGA Tour Rookie of the Year for 2021, Zalatoris has three top-10 finishes in 2022, including losing a play-off to Luke List at the Farmers Insurance Open. And how about this if you want more persuading: eight of the past 10 Masters champions were at 1.7 or better strokes gained tee to green in the three months leading into the Masters. Zalatoris is one of eight players who meet that criteria heading into the 2022 instalment.

DON'T BE A-DOUBTING THOMAS, BACK JUSTIN – John Skilbeck

Until his challenged fizzled out over the weekend last year, when he went from only three shots back to finish tied for 21st place, Justin Thomas was following a trajectory that seemed sure to lead to Masters glory. His record showed year-on-year progress, going from a tie for 39th in 2016, to a tie for 22nd a year later, then tied 17th in 2017, tied 12th in 2019, and fourth outright in 2020. Amid this, he won the 2017 US PGA Championship, and Thomas is too good a player to sit too long on just one major. He has the second-lowest scoring average this season on the PGA Tour, has three top-10 finishes in the past two months, and Augusta practice rounds with his great friend Tiger Woods can hardly have hindered his cause.

TIGER... JUST IMAGINE! – Russell Greaves

Lazarus was a one-trick pony, but if Woods were to win the Masters again it would constitute the second bona fide sporting miracle of his remarkable career. Woods' triumph in 2019 – his fifth at Augusta National – was his 15th major success, coming 11 years after his previous one. He became only the third golfer over 40 to win a major on US soil, joining Vijay Singh and Phil Mickelson. Now 46 and absent from competitive action since 2020 following his car accident, a win here would surpass anything Woods has ever achieved. He needs one more to equal Jack Nicklaus' six Masters titles, but would be putting a proud record on the line if he does choose to compete, as Woods has made the cut in each of his 21 appearances at this event.

Scottie Scheffler backed up last month's Phoenix Open triumph by taking out the Arnold Palmer Invitational by one stroke after a final round of 72 at Bay Hill on Sunday.

Scheffler carded an even-par round with three birdies and three bogeys to finish five under and one shot ahead of Viktor Hovland, Billy Horschel and Tyrrell Hatton – who stormed 10 places up the leaderboard with a final-day 69 to earn a tie of second.

The 25-year-old Scheffler made his move on the third day, with a five-under 68 launching him into contention. American Scheffler will now move up to fifth on the official world rankings.

Joint overnight leaders Horschel and Talor Gooch lost their grip on top spot, with the former making three bogeys and a double bogey on his final-day front nine before finishing with a three-over 75.

Gooch ended up two further strokes back with a five-over 77 after four bogeys and two double bogeys on his front nine.

Norwegian world number four Hovland loomed as the likely player to capitalise on their misfortune, as he assumed the lead.

But five bogeys in Hovland's closing 11 holes left the door open for Scheffler, who held his nerve, notably making an excellent long putt to save par on the 15th hole.

"It feels great, especially to win on such a difficult golf course and the way it finished," Scheffler told Sky Sports.

"I didn't play my best stuff, I just kept grinding and made some key putts down the stretch, and it was really just a fight all day."

First-round leader Rory McIlroy never threatened on Sunday, with a four-over-76 meaning he finished back at one over after 72 holes.

World number one Jon Rahm was one stroke behind the Northern Irishman after a final-round 74.

Norwegian world number four Viktor Hovland surrendered his lead at the Arnold Palmer Invitational with two bogeys to finish the third day at Bay Hill on Saturday.

Hovland, who was the leader at halfway, carded a three-over 75 with six bogeys, saving face with a hole-out eagle from the bunker on the sixth and birdie on the eighth.

The Norwegian had retained his lead until bogeys on 17 and 18 allowed American pair Billy Horschel and Talor Gooch to claim a share of the lead.

Horschel and Gooch are seven-under after 54 holes, with Hovland one stroke back, followed by Scottie Scheffler at five-under after he carded a joint round-high four-under-68.

"I was really in a good rhythm until some bad shots on the back nine," Hovland told reporters.

On his hole-out eagle, he added: "That was awesome. Obviously, not the greatest start to the day. Even the pars that I made on the next few holes was really scrappy. Hit some really bad shots.

"Then obviously walking up to the greenside bunker on that hole was hard on the downslope and no green to work it. I thought I was in no man's land, just try to chunk it out there and give myself a putt at it. It came out really soft and landed in the first cut and just died and went in."

Horschel carded a one-under-71 to claim the joint lead, with three bogeys and four birdies, including closing out with an important birdie putt.

Gooch had an even round for 72, bogeying the 18th to settle for a share of the lead after he had birdied both the 15th – with a 33-foot putt - and 16th.

Scheffler surged up 16 spots and into contention with a round that included three birdies and an eagle on his back nine. The American rolled in a 21-footer for eagle on the 16th.

Max Homa, playing alongside Scheffler, landed a rare ace on the 14th hole although he is off the pace with an even card overall in a group featuring top-ranked Jon Rahm.

Gary Woodland is behind Scheffler at four-under, with Rory McIlroy among a group of three at three-under ahead of the final day.

Viktor Hovland holds a two-shot lead at the half-way point of the Arnold Palmer Invitational after Rory McIlroy endured a disappointing finish.

Overnight leader McIlroy was not as sharp as he was on the opening day at Bay Hill but still looked in with a chance of retaining his status as pacesetter for much of the round.

That was until the 15th, when he needed three putts from 30 feet. He then missed a birdie opportunity on 16 and failed to save par from eight feet on 17.

The Northern Irishman ultimately finished at level par for the day with 72 – Hovland, who started on the 10th, carded 66, giving him the round of the day and the lead.

His score would have been even better had he not bogeyed the 13th, however he responded admirably to that set-back with three birdies in his next four holes.

Hovland added two more on the fourth and sixth to ultimately set the clubhouse lead as he moved to nine under for the tournament – McIlroy failed to rise to his challenge.

Joining McIlroy two shots back on seven under in a tie for second are Talor Gooch and Tyrrell Hatton, the latter of whom felt his four-under 68 was "pretty flattering".

Similarly, Hovland is not getting carried away with his position in the standings, particularly considering he was only two shots off the lead heading in the weekend last year and went on to finish 15 off the pace.

"I kind of try to forget the weekend here last year," Hovland told the PGA Tour. "I played really well the first few days, very similar to how I played so far this year.

"The course just gets harder and harder every single day, and it started blowing. A few too many bad swings and I ended up in bad spots and just didn't really take my medicine."

As for McIlroy, the four-time major champion was taken aback by how quickly conditions on the course changed from Thursday, adamant he will be better prepared on day three.

"Those are the sort of greens you expect to see late on a Sunday, not late on a Friday," McIlroy added. "It's going to be interesting to see where they go from here, but it's going to be a good test over the weekend.

"I'm glad I got 18 holes in those conditions because the course definitely changed a lot from when I played it yesterday morning to this afternoon. I'll be a little more prepared for it [on Saturday]."

Billy Horschel is one shot further back on six under, and then there's a three-shot gap to a group of seven – world number one Jon Rahm is at two under.

Patrick Reed, Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose were among those to miss the cut, which was set at three over par.

Joaquin Niemann extended his lead at the Genesis Invitational to three strokes after an eagle on the 10th hole on the third day at the Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, California.

The Chilean, who led after both of the first two days, carded a six-under-round of 68 to be 19-under overall, meaning his 194 across 54 holes is a course record. He leads from Cameron Young who is 16-under.

Young's double bogey on the 16th hole opened up a big gap at the top, with Viktor Hovland moving into third with a six-under-65 but he is six shots behind Niemann at 13-under.

Niemann carded four birdies on the front nine, before the highlight of his day with an eagle on the 10th after an aggressive drive.

The eagle took world number 32 Niemann to 21-under before two bogeys in his final seven holes, although Young was unable to make any major inroads.

Norwegian world number four Hovland was the big mover on Saturday, with five birdies on the front nine, although bogeys on the 14th and 15th slowed his charge.

Former PGA Championship winner Justin Thomas is one stroke behind the Norwegian after a one-under-70, while second-ranked Collin Morikawa is a further shot back after his three-under-68 took him to 11-under overall.

Last week's Arizona Open winner Scottie Scheffler also managed a six-under-round to be tied on 10-under alongside Maverick McNealy, Marc Leishman and Max Homa.

Rory McIlroy carded a four-under-67 to be seven-under and tied in a large group that includes three-time major champion Jordan Spieth who struggled with a two-over-73 with three bogeys and one birdie for the day.

Rory McIlroy wasted a glorious opportunity to win a third Dubai Desert Classic title in a gripping conclusion that saw Viktor Hovland edge Richard Bland in a play-off.

After making steady progress up the leaderboard on Friday and Saturday, McIlroy had a share of the lead alongside Hovland and Bland heading into the final hole on Sunday.

But the four-time major winner, aiming to add to his 2009 and 2015 triumphs in Dubai, sent his approach shot from 267 yards way right on the 18th and it ended in the water.

McIlroy gave himself hope by chipping a shot within 15 feet of the hole to remain on course for par, but his stroke brushed the cup and left him 11-under for the tournament.

That put him a stroke behind Hovland and Bland, who carded a six-under 66 and four-under 68 for the day respectively to finish level and take the competition to an extra hole at the Emirates Golf Club.

Hovland finished strongly with two birdies and an eagle on the final three holes to set the clubhouse lead, which Bland matched with two birdies in a row to conclude his round.

It was Hovland who prevailed in the first play-off hole, the Norwegian rolling in a three-footer for par after Bland's bogey opened the door.

The 24-year-old has now won three of his last five events, having also prevailed at the Hero World Challenge and Mayakoba Golf Classic towards the end of 2021.

Hovland started the day six strokes behind overnight leader Justin Harding, who endured a poor final round, which included a triple-bogey on the 11th to finish in joint-fourth.

"This is pretty wild. I didn't really think this was possible going into today," Hovland said.

"I knew I had to shoot a really low number but a lot of things had to go my way and I am thankful that they did."

Rory McIlroy and Collin Morikawa faced an overnight wait to learn whether they had made the cut at the windswept Abu Dhabi Championship, as Scott Jamieson clung to first place.

McIlroy made a vital birdie at the par-five 18th to improve his score to three over, having dropped four shots over the previous five holes.

His opening 72 had been way off the pace, and a 75 in the gusting wind could be considered a better result, nudging the four-time major winner up 15 places to a share of 60th position at Yas Links.

Reigning Open champion Morikawa added a 74 to his opening 73 to sit alongside McIlroy, both men hoping there was no surge coming from those left with holes still to play in the second round.

Play was suspended amid fading light on Friday, after the high winds made scoring treacherously difficult.

Jamieson had opened with a 63 on Thursday, but he had two bogeys and a double in his second round, which he started from the 10th tee. Birdies at 11 and eight kept the 38-year-old Scot just ahead of the field after a 74, with Viktor Hovland, Ian Poulter and James Morrison all one shot back.

Hovland also shot a 74, Poulter impressed with a 72, while Morrison, level par for the day, had four holes of his round to complete as darkness fell.

Former Open champion Shane Lowry was in a group of four on five under, while Denmark's Jeff Winther was the only player to break 70, his round of 69 featuring five birdies and taking him to four under, in a share of ninth.

In the first DP World Tour event of the year, the drastic change in playing conditions provided a stiff test for all, some former Masters winner Danny Willett was among those who struggled.

His 80, after an opening 72, meant the Yorkshireman could be definitely confirmed as missing the cut on eight over. Only four players scored worse.

The top 65 players and ties are assured of playing the final two rounds, with the second round to resume at 07:30 local time on Saturday (03:30 GMT).

Jamieson, the world number 336, said it "certainly wasn't easy" for the players who had enjoyed conditions suitable for low-scoring on the opening day.

"It's so tricky," he said, quoted on the DP World Tour website. "Obviously hitting shots is tricky with all the gusts, but the hardest thing is putting.

"You get over the ball and you feel like you've got to be so tense to stop everything moving, but that's the worst thing you can do when you're trying to putt.

"I holed a lot of really good putts from inside five feet today which kept my score respectable.

"It's a great test from tee to green, if you want to call it a test, at the mercy of whatever gust you might or might not get."

Scott Jamieson holds a one-shot lead from Viktor Hovland after the first round of the Abu Dhabi Championship. 

Jamieson got the first DP World Tour event of the year under way with a brilliant nine-under 63 at the Yas Links course on Thursday.

The Scot was bogey-free through his opening round, hitting the turn in 32 and making another five birdies on the back nine to set the clubhouse target at the DP World Tour's newest venue.

Jamieson started with a birdie and never looked back, fittingly also finishing his excellent round with another gain.

He said in an interview with the DP World Tour: "Eight weeks off from tournament golf, you're always a little bit on edge at the start of the day, but a birdie at the first settled any edge there was and I was just really solid all day.

"One tee shot wasn't very good, but I kind of got lucky and recovered well."

Hovland signed for an eight-under 64 in the opening Rolex Series event of the season, with a bogey five at the 12th the only blemish on the world number seven's card.

The Norwegian had gone out in 31 and finished with a flourish, making three birdies in his final four holes.

World number two Collin Morikawa, winner of the Race to Dubai last year, has work to do following a one-over 73, with Rory McIlroy also having ground to make up at level par.

Thomas Pieters is two shots adrift of Jamieson in third place, while Ian Poulter, Tyrrell Hatton and James Morrison are among a group of five players on six under.

Takumi Kanaya and Victor Perez also started with six-under rounds of 66.

Viktor Hovland turned the impossible possible on Sunday, overcoming a six-stroke deficit to win the Hero World Challenge.

Collin Morikawa was five shots clear at the start of the final round as the American closed in on the world number one ranking, but Hovland had other ideas in the Bahamas.

On a chaotic day, Hovland – in his first start since claiming the World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba – rallied to a stunning one-shot victory with consecutive eagles and a birdie from the 14th and 16th holes.

Despite bogeying his last two holes, Hovland signed for a 66 and the winners' cheque at 18 under, ahead of Scottie Scheffler (66) in front of tournament host and 15-time major champion Tiger Woods as Morikawa capitulated in a final-round 76.

"I didn't think a win was going to be very possible," said the 24-year-old Norwegian star Hovland. "But I know this course is tricky.

"You can make birdies, but it's easy to make bogeys and doubles. If I put a good score up there, you never know what's going to happen."

An unofficial PGA Tour event, Hovland insisted the win felt like an official one given the star-studded field.

"Hell, yeah! There's only 20 guys in the field, but the players here are really good, and I feel like my wins have come when the field hasn't been as strong, so for me to do well in a field like this gives me a lot of confidence," he added.

Morikawa appeared poised to add another piece of silverware to his collection in pursuit of golf's top ranking, but the reigning Open Championship winner crumbled, missing three birdie chances from 10 feet or closer to start the round.

Two triple-bogeys and a bogey capped a forgettable front nine for Morikawa, who dropped another shot at his final hole to end the event tied for fifth – four shots adrift of Hovland, alongside Justin Thomas (64).

Sam Burns shot a three-under-par 69 to earn a share of third spot with former Masters champion Patrick Reed (69).

A four-time major winner, Brooks Koepka had to settle for a slice of ninth position at Albany Golf Club following his two-over-par 74.

Bryson DeChambeau – beaten by rival Koepka in their exhibition showdown in Las Vegas – closed with consecutive rounds in the 70s after going two over on the fourth day.

Former world number one Rory McIlroy (75) ended the tournament 12 shots back, while Jordan Spieth's nightmare Hero World Challenge resulted in a six-over-par display after shooting a 76.

Collin Morikawa is close to overtaking Jon Rahm as the world's top golfer after opening up a five-stroke lead ahead of the final round of the Hero World Challenge.

A victory for the two-time major winner in the Bahamas will see him follow Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth in becoming the fourth person to become world number one before turning 25.

Morikawa started Saturday's session at Albany Golf Club as one of three players a stroke behind leader Bryson DeChambeau after an unfortunate bogey on the final hole on day two.

DeChambeau's lead quickly evaporated with a bogey on the opening hole, however, and the American struggled with three more bogeys on the back nine to finish one-over-par for the day as he slipped down to ninth.

Open champion Morikawa took full advantage by firing an eight-under 64 in a round that included six birdies and an eagle chip-in on the par-five third.

Morikawa, who last month became the first American to win the Race to Dubai with a victory at the DP World Tour, is now 18-under after 54 holes on the 20-man field.

Fellow American Brooks Koepka shot 69, his only blemish a double-bogey on the par-three eighth, to move into second place behind Morikawa.

Daniel Berger dropped two shots on the final three holes and joins Patrick Reed, Viktor Hovland, Sam Burns and Tony Finau in a tie for third, six strokes behind Morikawa.

The performance of the day belonged to Harris English thanks to his 10 birdies, though it was not quite a blemish-free round as he dropped a shot on hole one.

Rory McIlroy earned a share of the first-round lead after the former world number one carded a six-under-par 66 at the Hero World Challenge.

McIlroy – winner of October's CJ Cup – was almost flawless on the opening day as the four-time major champion joined Daniel Berger and Abraham Ancer a stroke clear atop the leaderboard.

McIlroy had an eagle, six birdies and a double-bogey at Albany Golf Course in the Bahamas on Thursday.

"It was nice to play the back nine the way I did and put myself back in the tournament," said McIlroy, who did not drop a shot on the back nine with three birdies and an eagle, which he improbably chipped in.

Berger boasted a four-shot advantage at one point in the first round after bursting out the blocks with four consecutive birdies, though two bogeys on the back nine undid some of that good work.

But McIlroy and Ancer ensured the American must share the lead entering Friday's second round, the former going five-under following the turn at the PGA Tour tournament.

Fellow leader Ancer finished in similar style, despite also faltering with a bogey on the ninth, recording five birdies after the halfway point to join the group on six under.

It looked like there would be a different leader, however, with American star Justin Thomas a shot in front until the final hole, which he double-bogeyed.

Brooks Koepka – a four-time major champion – joins the 2017 PGA Championship winner after registering 67, with Webb Simpson also a shot off the initial mark.

The quality on display does not stop there, with Tony Finau, Patrick Reed, Viktor Hovland and Collin Morikawa all managing 68 to sit two shots off the three-man leading pack ahead of day two.

Viktor Hovland became the first player to win back-to-back World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba titles after cruising to a four-shot victory.

Hovland dominated in Sunday's final round at El Camaleon Golf Club, the defending champion carding a four-under-par 67 to win his third PGA Tour trophy.

Two strokes clear at the start of play, Hovland holed six birdies and two bogeys to stretch his advantage atop the summit in Playa del Carmen, where the 24-year-old Norwegian star set a new 72-hole scoring record at 23 under.

Hovland became the fifth consecutive international winner on the PGA Tour, after Im Sung-jae (Shriners Children's Open), Rory McIlroy (CJ Cup), Hideki Matsuyama (Zozo Championship) and Lucas Herbert (Bermuda Championship).

"I think I'll have to say so," Hovland replied when asked if it was the best week of his career. "I played really good golf throughout the week, I didn't have my best stuff today but I wish I could putt like I did today more often.

"It's been a blast all week - throughout the week I've been chipping it so good, making so many up-and-downs and it puts a lot of pressure off your long game.

"I hit a couple of bad chips today, it's still a work in progress but I've made big strides and I hope I can continue in that way."

Mexican Carlos Ortiz (66) finished runner-up to Hovland, while former world number one Justin Thomas (69) secured third at 18 under, a stroke better off than Scottie Scheffler (66).

Matthew Wolff (65) – the leader after the opening two rounds – ended the event tied for fifth alongside Joaquin Niemann (66).

Viktor Hovland is on track to retain his World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba title after a birdie spree sent him to the top of the leaderboard following the third round.

Defending champion Hovland carded a career-low nine-under-par 62 on Saturday to soar to the Mayakoba summit at El Camaleon Golf Club, where he leads by two strokes.

The Norwegian star was flawless, holing nine birdies without a bogey, as he overturned a three-shot deficit on the penultimate day, with overnight leader Matthew Wolff crumbling (74).

"I got the max out of my game, essentially," said Hovland, who is bidding to become the first player to go back-to-back at the PGA Tour tournament.

"I did hit some approaches that were 40 feet, 30 feet and even 50 feet and when that kind of happens, you're just expecting to two-putt and move on. Then when I did hit a nice approach shot, I took advantage of it.

"So I felt like I got max out of my game, but obviously to shoot 59 you've got to chip in and you've got to hole a 50-footer or some longer putts and I didn't quite do that today, but I'm not too disappointed.

"That was fun today. Obviously I got off to a nice start and it was nice to have one of those rounds where you can kind of keep it going throughout the day instead of maybe slowing down towards the end there where, frankly, there are some tough holes."

Hovland is 19 under overall through 54 holes, two shots clear of Talor Gooch (63) and three ahead of former world number one Justin Thomas (64).

Wolff – who led entering the weekend – had a nightmare round, having bogeyed four holes to be tied for 17th, nine shots adrift of Hovland heading into Sunday's decider.

American pair Rickie Fowler (69) and Patrick Reed (70) are tied for 54th and 60th respectively.

Matthew Wolff could not duplicate the career-best form he showed in the opening round of the World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba on Friday, but he remains atop the leaderboard entering the weekend. 

Wolff carded a 68 in the second round to sit at 13 under par for the tournament at El Camaleon Golf Club, bogeying two of the last three holes after posting a flawless 61 Thursday. 

The 22-year-old American holds a two-stroke lead on countryman Scottie Scheffler (64), with home-crowd favourite Carlos Ortiz (65) and defending champion Viktor Hovland (65) three back at 10 under.

Sergio Garcia (69) and Justin Thomas (65) are among 10 players at nine under for the tournament. 

"It was a hard finish, but I was really happy with how I played today," Wolff said. "Felt like it was pretty difficult this afternoon, honestly. 

"Following a round like I had yesterday, it’s not always easy to come out and keep on making birdies and glad I proved to myself that I could do it. I put myself in a really good spot, so I’m excited for the week."

Further down the leaderboard, Justin Rose (70) is at five under, with Rickie Fowler (72), Charl Schwartzel (69), Patrick Reed (65) and Keegan Bradley (67) among those just making the cut at four under. 

On the wrong side of the line were Ian Poulter (73) at three under, Luke Donald (67) and Shane Lowry (69) at two under and Brooks Koepka (71) at even par. 

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