Two years after Max Homa played only one Sunday in an entire PGA Tour season, he showed his mettle at Quail Hollow by closing with a 4-under 67 to pull away from the field and win the Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte, N.C.
Homa began the back nine with two birdies to build a four-shot lead and didn’t make any mistakes until it only affected the final margin.
Joel Dahmen saved par with a tough chip over the creek for a 70 and finished three shots behind.
Homa, who won the NCAA title at Cal in 2013, won for the first time in his 68th start as a pro. The victory gets him into the PGA Championship in two weeks at Bethpage Black and the Masters next April.
But what a turnaround for the 28-year-old Californian.
Homa was at No. 829 in the world when he got his third crack at the PGA Tour in October. Two seasons ago, he made only two cuts in 17 tournaments, missing the 54-hole cut in one of them and finishing last at an opposite-field event in the other.
But he made six of seven cuts coming into Quail Hollow, and played like he belonged.
Photo: Sam Greenwood / Getty Images
Image 1 1
“Confidence takes a lot of anxiety away,” he said Saturday night as he prepared to play in the final group for the first time.
Homa never flinched, effectively sealing it with a long shot up the hill and onto the green at the par-5 15th for a two-putt birdie, saving par to keep a three-shot lead going to the final hole and drilling his tee shot down the fairway. He wrapped it up with a 10-foot par putt to finish at 15-under 269.
“Over the moon, man,” he said before going to sign his card. “It means a lot to do it under pressure, and job security is great. I haven’t had that.”
The victory was worth $1,422,000 — about $454,000 more than he had made in his previous 67 starts — and gives him a two-year exemption, along with a tee time at Bethpage Black in two weeks. The only other major Homa played was the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion, a month after his NCAA title.
Dahmen held his own until costly bogeys around the turn. But that chip was on the 18th for par to finish alone in second meant a difference of $158,000.
“I didn’t beat myself today, which was kind of the goal,” Dahmen said. “Max is playing awesome. He’s a good friend. I think we’re going to celebrate tonight.”
Justin Rose (68) finished third and moved ahead of Brooks Koepka to No. 2 in the world.
Champions: Scott McCarron won the Insperity Invitational in the Woodlands, Texas, for his 10th PGA Tour Champions victory and second in three weeks.
The 53-year-old McCarron held off Scott Parel by two strokes, closing with a 5-under 67 to finish at 17-under 199 and match Fred Couples (2010) for the best score since the event moved to The Woodlands Country Club in 2008.
McCarron won the Mitsubishi Electric Classic two weeks ago in Georgia, then teamed with Brandt Jobe to tie for fifth last week in Missouri in the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf . The former UCLA player won three times on the PGA Tour.
Parel shot a 66. The two-time tour winner also finished second last month in Mississippi, losing to Kevin Sutherland on the seventh hole of a playoff.
European: Mikko Korhonen of Finland held his nerve on the first playoff hole to edge Benjamin Hebert and complete his comeback to win the Volvo China Open in Shenzhen. Korhonen started the final round three shots behind Hebert, the overnight leader, but closed the gap after shooting a 6-under 66 to finish in a tie with the Frenchman on 20-under 268. And he didn’t take long to wrap up the title, sinking an eight-footer for a birdie on the first playoff hole.
This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/sports/golf/article/Ex-Cal-golfer-Max-Homa-comes-full-circle-and-wins-13821179.php.