In a 'dream' finish, Max Homa wins Wells Fargo, his first PGA Tour victory

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In a 'dream' finish, Max Homa wins Wells Fargo, his first PGA Tour victory

PGA Tour

In a 'dream' finish, Max Homa wins Wells Fargo, his first PGA Tour victory

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. – In his sophomore season on the PGA Tour, Max Homa made the cut in just two of 17 starts and cashed for $18,008 in 2017.

“I think I made more money in the pro-ams on Monday than I did in the tournaments,” he joked after his second round in the Wells Fargo Championship.

On Sunday, he won $1.422 million.

Homa, the 2013 NCAA individual champion for Cal, never cracked despite facing final-round pressure for the first time and won his first PGA Tour title. With a 4-under-par 67, the 417th-ranked player in the world won the Wells Fargo Championship, outlasting a stellar group including world No. 2 Justin Rose, Sergio Garcia, Rickie Fowler, Jason Dufner, Paul Casey, Joel Dahmen and Rory McIlroy, the only player to win twice at Quail Hollow.

With rounds of 69-63-70-67, Homa finished at 15 under and three shots clear of the field.

“I’m in a dream, I think,” said Homa, whose win earned him a two-year Tour exemption and trips to the PGA Championship in two weeks and the Sentry Tournament of Champions, The Players Championship and the Masters next year. He also jumped to No. 102 in the world.

“I didn’t know if this day would ever come let alone just keep my card, but it’s been very validating,” Homa added. “I have some scar tissue out here. I’ve been working my tail off and I’ve been seeing a lot of great results, and my gosh, it’s cool to do it here because I love this place as much as anyone.

WELLS FARGO: Scores from Quail Hollow

“It’s great for my family, my fiancé. I’m getting married in a few months. It’s just, everything’s good now. It’s a little job security and it’s fun. I’m usually good with words, but I don’t think I have any.”

Dahmen, a cancer survivor who was trying to win his first PGA Tour title, closed with a 70 to finish in solo second.

“I certainly didn’t beat myself today. Max is out there playing great. He deserves the win,” Dahmen said. “He’s a good buddy of mine, so I’m really happy for him, especially what he’s been through the last few years. I think we’ll celebrate tonight.

“I hung in there, a couple good pars coming in, which is worth a nice amount of FedExCup points for me and that’s going to go a long way this year.”

Rose shot 68 to finish third at 11 under. Garcia (68), Fowler (68), Casey (69) and Dufner (73) tied for fourth at 9 under.

McIlroy’s birthday weekend ended on a sour note. After turning 30 Saturday and shooting 68, McIlroy couldn’t get anything going in the final round. His bogey on the ninth and double on the 10th basically ended his chances for victory. He signed for a 73 and tied for eighth, his eighth top-10 in nine starts this year.

Because of his record here and fondness for the course, McIlroy was the clear favorite. But Homa’s victory was a bigger upset than 65-1 longshot Country House winning the Kentucky Derby on the first Saturday in May. Homa had one top-10 in 14 events this season entering the four-day race around Quail Hollow Club, had missed seven cuts and was 61-over par on the year. During one stretch in his professional career, he missed 24 of 27 cuts.

But if Homa is one thing, he’s relentless. That word is tattooed on the 28-year-old’s right arm, and it’s a word he turned to repeatedly during the roughest of times.

“When I played very, very bad two years ago I just kept thinking about that word (relentless),” Homa said. “I knew I was going to be back out here and I was going to make myself get back out here.”

Homa, Dahmen and Dufner were tied for the lead after 54 holes, with McIlroy looming two shots behind and Rose just three from the lead. But Homa assumed control of the tournament with birdies on 5, 7, 10 and 11, not once looking out of place in the final group.

Then he held his nerve with big par-saving putts on 12 and 13 and, after a delay of 62 minutes as torrential rains stormed by, he canned a 6-footer for par on the 14th to maintain a 3-stroke lead.

After two stout shots to get home in two on the 569-yard, uphill par-5, he two-putted from 70 feet for birdie to extend his lead to four. He played safely on the closing stretch – a brutal three holes called the Green Mile – and ended his win with a par putt from 10 feet and a celebratory shout to the skies.

“My whole world is a little different now,” he said following his breakthrough win.

His putt on 14 was the biggest, Homa said, when summarizing how it all came together. “You know, 12, 13, I was kind of in a rhythm there. And 14, played it poorly with my wedge shot and had (six) feet and get the horn. So not ideal trying to get your first win having to wait about an hour to hit that putt.

“I was nervous, I felt like I was going to throw up half the way, but my hands did not act like that. I felt like everything was just settled perfectly and I just had to control my stomach.”

Well, his stomach – and everything else – felt just fine at the end of the day.

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