Max Homa had a back nine to remember Sunday at the Fortinet Championship and his closing 65 powered him to his third career win on the PGA Tour.
Homa started the final round at Silverado Resort two shots back of co-leaders Maverick McNealy and Jim Knous. After a bad-break produced a bogey at the 10th hole, Homa found himself three shots behind McNealy, who forged into the lead with a 33 on the front nine.
Homa started an incredible run at the par four 12th where he holed out his second from 96-yards for an eagle two. Homa drained a birdie putt at the next hole from just inside 21 feet to get to five-under for the round, tied with McNealy at 17-under.
It all came down to the final three holes. Homa, playing just in front of McNealy, birdied the par five 16th to go 18-under. McNealy matched him then the tide totally turned in Homa’s favor at the short (361 yards) par four 17th. Homa holed a birdie putt from just inside 19 feet while back on the tee, McNealy would produce his worst swing of the day. His tee shot sailed right, hit the trees and fell straight down, just 160 yards from the tee box. It would set up a miserable hole for McNealy as he went on to make double-bogey and dash his chances for his first Tour win.
Homa’s birdie took him to 19-under and a closing par left McNealy in need of a double-eagle to tie. McNealy hit a nice drive and a better second then holed a 31-footer for a closing eagle that left him a shot shy of Homa. McNealy finished solo second at 18-under.
Two of Homa’s three wins have now come in his home state of California. He won the Genesis in Los Angeles earlier this season.
“Having two weeks off was very motivating,” Homa said afterward. “Not making East Lake (Tour Championship) hurt. Not making the Ryder Cup hurt.” Homa was among those being considered by Steve Stricker for a captain’s pick but those final three spots went to Daniel Berger, Harris English and Scottie Scheffler.
Darren Clarke Takes Sanford International:
Darren Clarke posted a closing 65 Sunday and found himself tied with K.J. Choi and Steve Flesch at 12-under par after regulation play at the Minehaha Country Club in Sioux Falls, S.D.
After one trip down the par four 18th in the playoff, Clarke and Choi made pars while a bogey dropped Flesch out of the playoff. On the second go-round, Clarke made birdie to win his third Champions Tour title.
“It’s nice to get back in the winner’s circle again,” Clarke said. “In the playoff you never know what’s going to happen, anybody can make birdie and luckily it was my day today.”
Clarke won the TimberTech Championship in November of 2020 for his first senior title and took the Mitsubishi Electric Championship in January on his next start. “I’ve really enjoyed my time here in Sioux Falls,” Clarke said. “The fans have been brilliant. I’ve had maybe a little beverage with one or two of them in the past, so it’s been nice to have that atmosphere and that support. It’s always wonderful.”