Max Homma defended his title at the Fortnite Championship in impressive fashion.
Trailing by one stroke on the final hole, Homa chipped in for birdie and watched in amazement as leader Danny Willett three-putted to less than 4 feet.
“I can’t believe what I just saw,” said Golf Channel announcer Terry Gannon.
Homa, who closed in 4-under 68 at Silverado Resort’s North Course in Napa, California, and signed for a 72-hole total of 16-under 272, was good enough for his fifth PGA Tour title and third in gold. State
“I don’t really know what happened,” Homa said. “The last three minutes are a blur.”
On a cold, wet, rainy day, Willett built a three-shot lead early in the final round with birdies on Nos. 1, 4 and 8 but gave up a stroke on the ninth. He pulled ahead again with a stunning birdie at 14, hooking his approach 15 feet behind the tree and nailing the putt. Homa, a 31-year-old Cal-Berkeley graduate, made a valiant effort to defend his title, starting at No. 9 and making three straight birdies.
“My coach (Mark Blackburn) said, ‘Just hang in there, hang in there, hang in there,'” Homa recalled.
Homa did just that, and when he birdied 18, Willett forced a hole-in-one from 4 feet for the trophy.
I spun and once it hit the pin it seemed to spin straight into the ground. It was just one of those things,” Homa said. “Golf is a strange game, some crazy things happen on the last hole and that was crazy.”
The clutch was as clutch as it gets, but it wasn’t enough until Willett hit too hard for the win and pulled out. Willett’s 5-foot return miss was even more shocking and gift-wrapped the trophy for Homma.
“This game never ceases to amaze me,” said Golf Channel’s Tom Byrum.
Rookie Taylor Montgomery shot a final round 64 to finish alone in third. Justin Lower closed with a 73, tied for fourth but had the best finish of his career. Rickie Fowler, who finished sixth, secured his third 10th finish in his last 59 starts. In his first tour start since the 2013 Wyndham Championship, a span of 3,315 days, Paul Haley II finished T-12.
On the par-5 18th, Homa’s second shot caught the left green side rock, leaving himself a 30-yard shot from the sand.
“I should have thought he was going to do that and I just went for the heroic bunker shot and didn’t catch it,” Homma said.
He finally blasted it 33 feet from the green before birdieing for the winner.
“I was waiting for him to do it, but it’s still a little bit of a shock when it happens,” Willett said.
For the week, the 34-year-old Englishman had hit more than 96 percent of his putts within 10 feet to maintain his lead. But his first putt from 4 feet went wide left and he hit it longer to force a layup than he had on his previous attempt. Willett was trying to win his first PGA Tour title since the 2016 Masters, but it was not to be.
“It’s a shame how I finished, but that’s golf,” Willett said. “Yes, we live to fight another day.”
Homa heads to next week’s Presidents Cup to represent the United States in the 12-man squad for the first time, a biennial team match-play tournament against the world’s top 12 non-European players, a confidence boost.
“I’m happy to be in shape, to represent my country, to play with these boys. They are good golfers, so I wanted to come in form,” he said. “I know this is Twitter, but if a lot of people hadn’t left the LIV guys, I wouldn’t have made the Presidents Cup team, so I had a little chip on my shoulder this week.”