NAPA, CA (AP) — Max Homa knew he had no choice but to go for it on the par-5 18th hole if he wanted to defend his title at the Fortinet Championship. Trailing Danny Willett by a shot, he went for the green in two but ended up in a tough spot in a bunker short of the green. He blasted out but still wasn’t on the putting surface.
Homa stayed aggressive, and this time it paid off, ramming his chip from 33 feet into the hole for a closing birdie. Still, all Willett needed to do was convert his own birdie from short range — and he didn’t deliver.
Willett hit his 3-foot, 7-inch putt too hard. It grazed the lip and ran 4 feet, 8 inches by. Then he missed the comebacker, a shocking collapse that made Homa the winner again in Napa.
“That was crazy. I still don’t really know what happened,” said Homa, a college star at California who now has three wins in the Golden State. “Just kind of one of those weekends you just had to hang around.”
Homa high-fived his caddie when his chip shot hit the flagstick and dropped. Moments later, he was a five-time winner on the PGA Tour.
“Them things happen. Luckily we’ve been in a good position all week and then unfortunate things happen when you feel like you need them most,” said Willett, who is winless in the United States since he took advantage of Jordan Spieth’s collapse to win the 2016 Masters.
Willett laid up 65 yards short of the 18th green green, then stuffed his approach close enough that closing out the tournament should have been routine.
“It’s a shame with how it finished but I’m pretty sure those are the only short putts we’ve missed all week. Just a shame to do it when I did. One of them things. At times you wish you could rewind time. We learn from it and move on.”
“Today I hit it well, kept it around the hole where it needed to be, I just couldn’t get the ball to go to its home,” he said. “On 18 it decided to go home quickly, so that was quite a nice bonus.”
Homa closed with a 4-under 66 for a total of 16-under 272 and now heads to Charlotte, North Carolina, as a captain’s pick for the Presidents Cup with three wins in the past 12 months. Willett shot 69. Taylor Montgomery was alone in third at 13 under after a closing 64.
Canadian Notes: Nick Taylor of Abbotsford, B.C., finished tied for sixth at 11 under. Adam Svensson of Surrey, B.C., finished at 9 under and tied for 12th. Mackenzie Hughes of Hamilton finished tied for 25th at 7 under, and Taylor Pendrith of Richmond Hill, Ont., tied for 67th at 1 over.