Homa cookin' for second PGA win in California

San Francisco (AFP) –


Max Homa roared to the finish Sunday with an eagle and three birdies on the back nine to fire a 65 and capture the PGA Tour's season-opening Fortinet Championship in Napa, California.

Two of Homa's three PGA wins have come in his home state of California. Homa attended Valencia High School just outside of Los Angeles and then spent four years on the University of California Berkeley golf team.

"I went to school here. I love the state of California," Homa said.

Homa won at the Riviera Country Club earlier this year in the Los Angeles suburb of Pacific Palisades. His first career win was in 2019 at the Wells Fargo Championship in North Carolina.

Homa began his blistering back nine rally by holing out from the rough from 95 yards on the par-four 12th and then followed it up with a birdie on the next hole.

He tapped in for another birdie on the par-five 16th and ran in an 18-footer on the par-four 17th. He parred the par-five 18th to finish at 19-under 269 and post a one-shot win over fellow Californian Maverick McNealy.

After a one-week break, the PGA Tour kicked off the 2021-22 season with The Fortinet Championship. The Tour will take a back seat this week to the Ryder Cup Championship which begins on Thursday.

Homa said failing to make the US Ryder Cup team motivated him to come from behind on Sunday and win.

"I only had two weeks off, but with disappointment comes a lot of motivation, and not making East Lake hurt, and not making the Ryder Cup team hurt," he said.

"The last two weeks I worked my tail off. So it's fun to get win in front of a bunch of friends and family."

Homa also birdied three of the last four holes on the front nine while playing in the group in front of third round co-leader McNealy.

McNealy finished just one stroke back in second with a 68. McNealy had a three-shot lead with seven holes left but couldn't hold off Homa.

"It was a great week, I learned a lot," McNealy said. "I loved the way I was feeling. I loved the way I managed myself."

The 25-year-old McNealy played his US college golf at nearby Stanford University, where he tied a number of Tiger Woods' Cardinal collegiate records.

McNealy birdied the 16th, then made a double bogey on 17, but finished off in style with an eagle on 18.

His made a costly mistake on 17 but said it wasn't going to bother him going forward.

- Positive attitude -

"My mentality is that I am going to play every shot to where even if something bad happens, I am OK with it. Sometimes it just doesn't work out. I tried hard. I wouldn't do anything over," said McNealy, the son of Scott McNealy, who is the co-founder of US computer giant Sun Microsystems.

Chile's Mito Pereira (68) was third at 16-under. Marc Leishman (65) and Talor Gooch (68) followed at 15-under.

Japan's Hideki Matsuyama (66) tied for sixth at 13-under. PGA Championship winner Phil Mickelson (75) was at seven-under. Mickelson was making his seventh start at the event, with his best finish being tied for third four years ago.