After shocking 72nd-hole plot twist, Max Homa wins Fortinet Championship
Max Homa was on the ropes. He had just left his third shot from the bunker at the par-5 18th at the Silverado Resort and Spa North Course short of the green.
His opponent, Danny Willett, was already one shot ahead and had less than four feet for birdie to seal the win.
The 2022 Fortinet Championship was over.
Until it wasn’t.
Homa holed his fourth shot from a collection area left of the 18th green…
…and then watched as Willett missed his birdie putt and then shockingly missed again, this one from about five feet, handing the first title of the 2022-23 PGA Tour season to Homa.
Under these stunning circumstances, Homa successfully defended his Fortinet victory from a year ago and started the new season with his fifth career Tour win.
“My coach just said just hang around, hang around, hang around,” Homa said after the win. “And I don’t know, last like three minutes are kind of a blur.”
Willett looked in control for much of Sunday’s final round. He quickly grabbed the lead from 54-hole leader Justin Lower with three birdies in the first eight holes.
Homa, who was tied with Willett through three rounds at 12 under, remained steady through the same stretch before pulling even with Willett early on the back nine thanks to three-straight birdies of his own.
Willett took control again on 14, hitting a miraculous second shot, which bended some 50 yards around a tree directly in front of him and setting up a birdie giving him a one-stroke advantage, which he took to 18.
The Englishman hasn’t won on the PGA Tour since his dramatic victory at the 2016 Masters.
In that tournament, it was Willett who stole the show from Jordan Spieth who seemingly had the major locked up.
This time, however, it was Homa who took the title, and Willett who was left shell-shocked.
“I played really good golf, I played solid,” Homa said. “Danny and Justin both played great, but I just tried to play my game and just see where it got me. I don’t know, it was a wild finish.”
After holing his fourth, Homa looked at his caddie Joe Greiner, slowly walked over to him and let out a big scream in jubilation. His final-round 68 put him at 16 under for the tournament.
Willett simply smiled.
“I expected him to do it, but then it’s still a bit of a shock when it happens,” Willett said of the moment. “He played — we all played really good today. Like I said, bit of a shame to kind of finish how I did.”
In the end, Willett pulled his birdie putt by the hole and did the same on the par putt from slightly farther away, both catching the left lip.
“I hit it, obviously, far too hard,” Willett said. “I thought it was straighter … just ended up tailing off and missing left. Yeah, disappointing way to finish, but you know, first out of the season, like I said, to be in contention, things are in a good place. Yeah, we’ll live to fight another day.”
Homa kicked off the new PGA Tour season with a win and will take the momentum from Napa — plus his T5 finish at the Tour Championship last month — into his first team appearance at the Presidents Cup next week in Charlotte.
Homa was the only U.S. team member to tee it up in Napa, and the move paid off in the best way possible.
“I’m just happy to be in form, to represent my country, play with those boys,” Homa said. “They’re some good golfers, so I just wanted to come in in form. Honestly, I got a lot of people — I know this is Twitter, but I’ve had a lot of people tell me if the LIV guys wouldn’t have left, I wouldn’t have made the Presidents Cup team, so I had a little bit of a chip on my shoulder this week.”