Max Homa stable in the Sunday duel, gets the 4th win of the tour in Wells Fargo

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Max Homa kept hearing from his coach, caddy and other fans that he needed to behave more confidently, an attitude befitting a multiple. PGA tour winner.

With his fourth overall win, his third in 15 months and his second since giving up his popular podcast to focus on his career and mental health, the 31-year-old is starting to believe it.

Homa played solid and steady golf during a week of cold, wet conditions and a back-and-forth Sunday duel with Keegan Bradley, finishing with a 2-under 68 for a two-stroke win in the Wells Fargo championship.

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Max Homa kisses the trophy after winning the Wells Fargo Championship golf tournament, Sunday, May 8, 2022, at TPC Potomac at the Avenel Farm golf club in Potomac, Md.
(Photo AP / Nick Wass)

“Suddenly last year I got into the top 50 in the world and you start looking around and it’s a new group of people and you start thinking to myself, ‘Am I as good as these guys?’” Homa said. “So I’ve always struggled with that, but I have great people around me punching me in the head and telling me I’m that guy. I’ve been trying to walk around this week believing it and pretending a little bit until I made it. “

With his win last September in Napa, California, Homa joins Scottie Scheffler (four), Hideki Matsuyama (two), Sam Burns (two) and Cameron Smith (two) as multiple winners on tour this season. He hasn’t competed in a major yet, but his next chance comes in his next start, the PGA Championship at Southern Hills.

He also moves to sixth place on the Presidents Cup rankings, meaning he is able to earn a return visit this September to the usual Wells Fargo home, Quail Hollow in Charlotte, North Carolina. Homa scored his maiden career win in 2019 at Quail Hollow, who took the year off as a guest of Wells Fargo as he prepared for the US-versus-International team competition.

“I don’t care about anything other than creating that Presidents Cup team, so I really hope Captain Davis Love III is watching today,” he said.

TPC Potomac, which last hosted the tour in 2018, held up well despite torrential rain on Friday and Saturday and unusually cold temperatures for much of the week.

Bradley started the day with a two-stroke lead, relinquished it at the second hole par-5 and recovered it at the eighth par-4 before Homa finally took the lead over the last nine. A bugbear on the closing hole gave Bradley a 2 of 72 and a draw for second place with Cameron Young and Matt Fitzpatrick.

Bradley led the field in putting the PGA Tour’s “shots earned” metric, a welcome change for a player who has struggled on the greens for nearly a decade.

“It’s the best since I’ve had the belly putter and it’s not even close,” he said.

Homa played cautiously on Saturday, the hardest day of the week, but was aggressive early on Sunday with his umbrella stowed in his golf bag for the first time since the opening round.

He rotated his 7 iron as he watched his approach on the first par-4 hole settle 8 feet from the hole. An 8-foot lob on the par-4 fifth was good for another birdie, and a 7 iron within 10 feet on the par-3 ninth allowed him to lap 34, 2 under for the day and equalize with Bradley, which strengthened after a nervous gasp.

Looking to climb high enough in the world rankings to secure a spot in the US Open at The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts, the 35-year-old New England native hit a shoddy shot from a bunker on the green on the second par-5 hole, leading to the double bugbear. Afterwards, caddy Scott Vail asked the police to expel a couple of annoying fans.

Bradley recovered with three birds in a four-hole course. But the next two out of five two-shot swings between the last pair belonged to Homa. Bradley found a penalty area to the right of the 11th green, leading to a double bogey. When Homa converted another birdie on the par-4 15, he had a three-shot lead with three to play.

Homa had to do a 5-foot bogey on the 16th while Bradley had the little bird move inside one. When Homa fell behind with his birdie putt at the tap-in range at 18, it was finally over.

“I put it fantastic,” said Homa. “When you put it like I did this week, it’s, you know, you almost have to make a mess to at least not contend.”

Homa won Mother’s Day two weeks after he and wife Lacey announced they are expecting their first child, a boy.

“Sometimes my life seems too good to be true, and this is one of those cases,” she said.

Young scored six birdies ranging in length from 8 feet to 6 inches in his 66 finals for his third second place in the rookie season of the 24-year-old on tour. Fitzpatrick scored 18th to finish a 67 without bogey.

“I gave myself every chance to shoot something better and I just didn’t,” said Young. “I think I played really well knowing I had to do something special to have a chance to win and I almost did.”

The biggest galleries of the day belonged to Rory McIlroy, who started the day six shots from the lead and was 3 under across 10 holes. But from there he stopped and finished with a bogey for a 68 to finish alone in the fifth, four shots back.

“No complaints with the game,” said McIlroy, after a second place finish at the Masters. “Everything looks solid enough.”

NOTES: Jason Day, the leader of the first and second round, finished with a 70 to finish at 1 under. … Stewart Cink had the low round on Sunday, a 65 that took him to a ninth place at 2 under.