'Life's good': Max Homa never flinches en route to second Wells Fargo Championship title

by 24USATVMay 9, 2022, 12:01 a.m. 15
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Not through two days of constant rain. Not when the thermometer barely got past 50 degrees the final two days of the Wells Fargo Championship. Not when gusting winds made matters cooler and forced players to adjust on the already brutal and saturated TPC Potomac at Avenal Farm north of the nation’s capital.

Instead, Homa, whether chasing the lead or holding it the final 36 holes, relied on his calm demeanor and never altered his game plan of concentrating on hitting fairways and greens. In other words, as the golf cliché says, he plodded his way through the miserable elements one shot at a time and ended up with the fewest shots to win his fourth PGA Tour title and second Wells Fargo Championship.

He was at his low-key best when he took a three-shot lead to the 70th hole. As playing partner Keegan Bradley made birdie, Homa was forced to make a 6-foot bogey putt to maintain a one-stroke lead. He buried it.

Two solid pars later, Homa signed for a 2-under-par 68 to finish at 8 under, two shots clear of the field. Homa, who was ranked 100th in the official world rankings in January 2021, won for the third time in 14 months, including receiving the championship hardware from Tiger Woods at last year’s Genesis Invitational.

He is now 29th in the world.

He also joined Rory McIlroy as the only players with multiple Wells Fargo wins. As well, he became the fifth multiple winner on the PGA Tour this season.

“Life’s good,” said Homa, who joined his wife, Lacey, to reveal in late April on social media that the two are expecting their first child, a boy. “I’ve got a good life and I’m playing good golf. I’m coming into my own. I’m starting to believe in myself more.

“Keegan is a really good golfer. I knew he was never going to go away and I just tried to keep hitting good shots. Obviously seen some low spots on this tour and for the last three years now kind of finding my stride and racking up four wins is crazy.”

Homa birdied the first from eight feet and took the lead after Bradley made double on the second. A two-shot swing evened things on the seventh hole and Bradley took the lead with a birdie on the eighth. But Homa birdied nine and 10 and took a three-shot lead when Bradley doubled the 11th. From there, Homa never relinquished the lead, adding one birdie from 12 feet on the 15th and several gut-check par putts from 6-8 feet.

Bradley, the 54-hole leader by two shots, was trying to win for the first time since the 2018 BMW Championship. The 2011 PGA Championship winner had an up-and-down day with two double bogeys, three bogeys and five birdies. He shot a 72 to fall into a tie for second at 6 under. Matt Fitzpatrick, who has seven wins on the DP World Tour, made a good run at his first PGA Tour title with a final-round 67 to finish at 6 under. Also at 6 under was Cameron Young (66).

“I didn’t play my best golf today,” Bradley said. “It was choppy and then I had a couple good stretches but I had a chance there at the end, so I’m proud of that aspect of it. But I’m pretty bummed, I felt pretty good about this one.

“I’m happy with where my game is at, especially my putting. Jeez, if I can putt like this, I feel like I can do a lot of damage the rest of the year.”

Defending champion Rory McIlroy, the only player with three Wells Fargo titles, grinded his way through the rain and darkness to make the cut on the number on Friday, getting up-and-down from a greenside bunker on his last hole.

Then he moved up 44 spots with a 68 in the third round and got within two shots of the lead with a birdie on the 10th on Sunday. He scared the hole on numerous birdie putts coming in but shot 68 to finish at 4 under and in fifth place.

“Had my chances,” McIlroy said. “Played the last eight holes in 1 over, which whenever you give yourself a chance and got withing like 2, obviously not the way you want to finish, but played well. Overall it’s been a good weekend, a decent week, something to build on going into the PGA (Championship in two weeks). No complaints with the game.

“Everything feels pretty solid. As I said, just a couple things here and there coming down the stretch, a couple missed putts, but really apart from that I feel like the game’s in good shape.”

While Homa is hilarious in the world of Twitter, he displays the perfect poker face inside the gallery ropes. He never gets too high, never gets too low. And if he did, no one could tell by looking at him.

And his skills cannot be doubted. He’s become an excellent driver of the golf ball, an exceptional iron player and a solid putter. With growing confidence, he looks like he’ll continue a steady march to the elite level of the game.

“I started to establish myself on this tour when I won this event in 2019,” Homa said. “I definitely knew I was capable of being a regular PGA Tour player, but all of a sudden last year I get in the top 50 in the world and you start looking around and it’s a new crop of people and you start thinking to myself, Am I as good as these guys? And then I want to be top 10 in the world, play Presidents Cup, play Ryder Cups. Am I good enough to do that?

“So I’ve always struggled with it, but I have great people around me who bash me over the head telling me that I am that guy. I tried to walk around this week believing that and faking it a little bit until I made it.”

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