Max Homa made his affinity for California that became well known when he won the Genesis Invitational in February about 50 kilometres from where he grew up in Santa Clarita. Homa now has a second win in America’s Golden State, catching and then passing Maverick McNealy with a final-round 65 that gave Homa his second win in seven months and third overall on the PGA Tour.
Homa made a 27-footer on the par-4 sixth and followed that with birdies from 14 feet on the eighth and four feet on the ninth. After a hiccup bogey on the 10th (after his approach hit a tree overhanging the green), Homa erased that error – and then some – by holing out with his Titleist Vokey SM8 lob wedge from 87 metres for eagle at the 12th before tacking on another birdie at 13 – this time running in a 21-footer.
As for Homa’s solid work on the greens (he ranked second in putts per green in regulation), he used a Scotty Cameron by Titleist Phantom X 5.5 Tour Prototype that he first put in play at the Memorial Tournament.
Homa finally took control on the par-5 16th, launching a 7-wood from 225 metres that stopped on the green and led to the go-ahead birdie. For the week Homa played the hole five-under par, making an eagle there in the first round. When McNealy matched his birdie, Homa rolled in one final birdie putt on 17 – this one a curling 18-footer as he pumped his fist that put him back on top for good.
Despite sitting seven behind the lead heading into the weekend, Homa went 12-under par for his final 34 holes to earn the victory at Silverado Resort & Spa’s North course. His weekend rally allowed him to rank sixth in strokes gained/off-the-tee, picking up more than three shots on the field with his 9-degree Titleist TSi3 driver with an Aldila Rogue Black 130 60 TX shaft. He also led the field in strokes gained/tee-to-green, with more than a 10-stroke advantage on the field, aided by his Titleist 620 MB irons and Titleist Vokey SM8 wedges, including one he uses for his pitching wedge. Although many players on tour now use irons with some sort of cavity back, Homa is more old-school.
“I’ve always been a blade guy,” he told Golf Digest in 2018. “I used to do the combo set thing with a 4, 5, 6 in a cavity-back and the rest blades but I’ve always liked the look of blades. I hit it quite high and tend to spin it high so the long irons still get up there, but I feel like I can flight my short irons better. They are very orthodox, and I feel like I can do what I want with them.”
Which is kind of how he must feel when playing in California.
What Max Homa had in the bag at the 2021 Fortinet Invitational:
Ball: Titleist Pro V1
Driver: Titleist TSi3 (Aldila Rogue Black 130 60 TX), 9 degrees
3-wood: Titleist TSi2, 15 degrees
7-wood: Titleist TSi2, 21 degrees
Irons (4-9): Titleist 620 MB; (PW): Titleist Vokey SM8
Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM8 (52, 56, 60 degrees)
Putter: Scotty Cameron by Titleist Phantom X 5.5 Tour Prototype
PHOTO: Meg Oliphant