Wells Fargo Championship

Wells Fargo Championship

Wells Fargo Championship
Charlotte, North Carolina
Winner: Max Homa

When it comes to feeling low, Max Homa figures he holds the record. What’s lower than low? He was there. “I used to say, when I hit rock bottom, I found a shovel and kept digging,” said Homa, 28, for years his own poster boy for frustration and failure. “I went to some low, low places. I realized … that my attitude was going to have to get a lot better. I’m very proud I finally found the ladder and started climbing because it was getting dark down there.”

Entering the last round of the Wells Fargo Championship, Homa was tied for the lead with Jason Dufner and Joel Dahmen, and feeling the hot breath of Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose and Sergio Garcia on his neck. A 69-63-70 start got him there. Then a cool four-under 67 got him his first PGA Tour win, at 15-under 269. Dahmen, also chasing that first win, closed with a par save for a 70, three behind. “I didn’t beat myself today,” he said.

Rose sputtered to a one-bogey 68 and finished third. Tied for fourth: Garcia (68) with three back-nine bogeys; Rickie Fowler (68) with two; Paul Casey (69) with four bogeys on the front, and Dufner (73) with a bogey at 10 and a double bogey at 18. And McIlroy (73), the first-round co-leader, tied for eighth after dropping four strokes in six holes. Homa staked his claim with a 63 in the second round, a gem that included two bursts of three straight birdies: From No. 8, on a tap-in and putts of 24 and 12 feet, and from the 14th on putts of three, seven and 14 feet. “My attitude is awesome nowadays,” he said.

But nerves hit him hard in the final round, a round to celebrate. He birdied all three of Quail Hollow’s par-fives — No. 7 with a 14-foot putt, the 10th out of a bunker to 15 feet and the 15th with two putts from 68 feet. The clincher, he said, was the par putt at the 14th, when he was leading by three. His approach had stopped just short of the water. He chipped to six feet, and a weather delay hit. He had to wait a nerve-racking hour. If he’d come back and bogeyed, he said, “all of a sudden you’re standing on 15 with some negatives. I knew in the back of my mind, if I made that putt, I win this tournament.” And he came back out and made it. Then he birdied 15, and made his only bogey, a harmless one, at 16. He parred the 17th and 18th, and his deflating past was forgotten. Just two years earlier, he was in his second crack at the PGA Tour and made just two cuts. Only once did he play on Sunday. And a return to qualifying school was looming just eight months earlier.

“The feeling [whether] I belonged was the worst part,” Homa said. “I felt like nobody knew who I was, no one cared. It was embarrassing at times. But,” he added, “it ain’t embarrassing anymore. It’s a cool story now.”


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