Max Homa won two times on the Web.com Tour between 2014 and 2016, but not even those experiences could have prepared him for what he was facing today. Not only had Homa never played in a final pairing on the main US PGA Tour, he had never really contended or come close to a win. Like so many unknown tour pros before him, it wouldn’t have come as a shock if he faded from the top of the leaderboard.
Instead, Homa looked like a seasoned veteran, cruising to his first career victory at the Wells Fargo Championship. He made five birdies and just one bogey for the day, but he impressed the most with his par saves on Quail Hollow’s back nine, making five par putts of five feet or more to preserve a final-round 67, which gave him a three-shot victory. His final save came on the 72nd green:
The raw emotion of winning on TOUR.
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) May 5, 2019
The grinding nature of Homa’s back nine should come as no surprise, as the 28-year-old former NCAA individual champion has had to do some serious battling to reach the winner’s circle. In 2017 he made just two of his 17 cuts on the PGA Tour, with a high finish of 71st. He returned to the Web.com Tour in the hopes of regaining his card and he did just that, collecting three top-10s, two of which came in two of his last three events of the season.
Homa won’t be going back to the Web any time soon, as the victory earns him two years of playing privileges on tour, as well as an exemption into the PGA Championship at Bethpage Black. It will be just his second appearance in a Major.
“Over the moon, man,” said Homa of his feelings right after the final putt. “It’s hard coming off that Web category, I have some serious scar tissue from out here. Means a lot to me to be able to do this under pressure, and the job security is great, I haven’t had that before.”
Homa held off a pair of charging Major champions in Justin Rose and Sergio Garcia, who each carded final-round 68s to creep up the leaderboard. Joel Dahmen got the closest to Homa, posting a one-under 70 to finish alone in second at 12-under, three behind Homa. Rose finished in solo third, while Garcia tied for fourth with Rickie Fowler, Paul Casey and Jason Dufner.
A third round of three-over 74 may have brought his title defence undone, but Jason Day saved something special for the final round of the Wells Fargo Championship.
Beginning the final round just inside the top 30, Day fired a two-under par round of 69 to finish the week tied for 24th. With rounds of 68-69 to start the week, Day showed that he had no intention of relinquishing his title without a fight, believing he could contend over the weekend despite trailing 36-hole leader Jason Dufner by six shots.
A birdie at his second hole on Saturday sent him on the right trajectory to make a move in the third round but a lost ball with his tee shot at the par-5 seventh blotted his scorecard with a double-bogey from which he was unable to recover.
After starting the final round with five straight pars at the demanding Quail Hollow layout, Day dropped a shot at the par-3 sixth but bounced back in spectacular style, driving the green at the 279-metre par 4 eighth and making the 34-foot putt for eagle.
Three straight birdies from the 14th hole on his back nine helped to get the competitive juices flowing and give the world No.14 something to build on two weeks out from the US PGA Championship at Bethpage Black.
A closing 71 saw Matt Jones complete a solid week in a tie for 38th, while two double-bogeys in the first five holes of his final round sent John Senden crashing 32 spots down the leaderboard in the final round to be tied for 54th.