Max Homa overcomes ‘awful break’ with clever strategy in critical Ryder Cup moment
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The U.S. Ryder Cup team faced a near impossible task on Ryder Cup Sunday, but Max Homa fought off a disastrous break with clutch play and clutch decision-making from his caddie, Joe Greiner, to keep the Americans hopes alive.
Entering the day trailing Europe 10.5-5.5., the U.S. team need a herculean effort to make a miracle comeback.
As Homa and Matt Fitzpatrick’s match arrived at the 18th tee, Homa was 1 up, and the Europeans were just a half point away from clinching the title. But elsewhere on the course, the U.S. players were controlling the competition.
If Fitzpatrick were to win the 18th hole, it would all be over, with Europe completing their victory early. But if Homa could hold on to win, the tournament wouldn’t be decided until the final few matches.
Both players hit their second shots on the par-5 18th into trouble right of the green. It seemed like the match would come down to the lies.
Fitzpatrick lucked out. Though his ball was in deep rough, it was hittable, and he knocked in on to give himself a medium-length shot at birdie.
Homa, on the other hand, arrived in the area of his approach shot to find his ball buried in deep fescue on the side of a greenside bunker.
Facing an impossible lie, Homa and his caddie made the difficult decision to take an unplayable lie. With the penalty stroke, even if Homa were to get up-and-down for par, Fitzpatrick could make his birdie putt to win the Ryder Cup.
Homa took his drop and hit a clutch flop shot that settled six feet beneath the hole, giving himself an outside shot at holding onto the win.
It was all up to Fitzpatrick, and with the European team gathered around the green, Fitzpatrick stepped up and slid his birdie try just past the hole.
Now Homa faced a testy putt with the pressure of the entire event riding on it. He misses it, and Eurpe wins. He makes it, and the U.S. fights on for at least a little while longer.
Homa rolled it into the heart of the hole, accentuating his winning putt with a fist pump.
After the putt, NBC’s Steve Sands caught up with Homa, who called it an “outer-body experience.” As the for the crucial decision to take an unplayable, Homa gave credit to Greiner.
“It wasn’t me, it was all Joe,” Homa said. “Joe Greiner’s the brains, I just swing it. It was an awful break, I don’t know how it didn’t get in the bunker. I was frustrated, my head was spinning, and he said, ‘We’re going to take an unplayable. You’re going to chip it down to 10 feet and you’re going to make it.'”
“I just had so much fun with my team. I love these boys so much,” Homa said. “You just want to do your best and give the team the best chance they’ve got.”
He did exactly that. With his point secured, the U.S. team still had a slim chance to pull off a comeback to remember.