SAN FRANCISCO – Max Homa chipped in for birdie at the 72nd hole on Sunday (Sept 18) to win the PGA Tour’s Fortinet Championship for a second straight year as Danny Willett crumbled at the last hole.
Homa fired a four-under 68 at the Silverado Resort in Napa, California, his 16-under total of 272 giving him a one-shot win over England’s Willett, who missed a 31/2-foot birdie putt at the 18th that would have given him the win.
“It was kind of a wild finish,” Homa said. “The last, like, three minutes are kind of a blur. But I played really good golf. I played solid.”
Willett remains in search of his first PGA Tour title since his 2016 Masters triumph, although he has won twice since then on the DP World Tour.
He took a one-shot lead with a birdie at the 14th, where he drained a 15-foot putt from the fringe after an impressive approach shot from behind a tree.
He appeared to be in command at the par-five 18th, where he landed his 66-yard third shot less than four feet from the pin while Homa was in a bunker short and left of the green.
Homa’s bunker shot failed to reach the green, settling in a mown swale below the putting surface, but his chip took a couple of small hops and rolled into the cup.
“I expected him to do it, but then it’s still a bit of a shock when it happens,” said Willett, who had outstanding putting all week from within 10 feet but could not make his short birdie for the win.
It burnt the left edge and failed to drop, and he missed the four-footer coming back as well on the way to a three-under 69 that gave him a 15-under total of 273.
“Disappointing way to finish, but you know, first out of the season, to be in contention, things are in a good place. We’ll live to fight another day,” Willett said.
American Taylor Montgomery, making his fifth tour start, defied the rainy, chilly conditions with eight birdies in an eight-under 64 to finish third on 275.
“Just a huge week,” Montgomery said. “I don’t know anything about the PGA Tour and points and stuff like that, but I know top-10s or top-fives is very big, especially for a guy in my spot.”
Chip on shoulder
Overnight leader Justin Lower carded a one-over 73 to share fourth on 276 with South Korean An Byeong-hun, who signed for a 71.
Homa’s victory at Silverado was one of his two last season, and his defence is a warm-up for next week’s Presidents Cup match play showdown in North Carolina.
Homa admitted he was delighted to silence critics suggesting he made it onto US captain Davis Love’s squad only because big names were ineligible after defecting to the upstart LIV Golf Series.
“Honestly, I’ve had a lot of people – I know it’s just Twitter but I’ve had people telling me if the LIV guys wouldn’t have left, I wouldn’t have made the Presidents Cup team,” Homa said. “So I had a little bit of a chip on my shoulder this week.” AFP