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Dublin: 13°C Tuesday 11 May 2021
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Max Homa secures dramatic play-off win at the Genesis Invitational

The American won on the second play-off hole after Tony Finau’s brave effort came to a painful end.

Homa and hosed: Max Homa on the third.
Homa and hosed: Max Homa on the third.
Image: Ryan Kang

MAX HOMA PRODUCED his best round of the year to secure victory in the Genesis Invitational at the Riviera Club in California.

The American, whose last victory came at the Wells Fargo Championship in 2019, carded a five-under 66 before he defeated Tony Finau, who had also played superbly en route to a seven-under 66, in the play-off.

For a while it looked as if Finau would do it. A superb outward nine – where he birdied the first, third, par three sixth and eighth put the American in a strong position. 

Some of his approach shots, especially his long iron into the third and his second at the par four eighth, were simply majestic. Better again, he putted brilliantly, the tone set with a 12-footer on the first, after he had chipped poorly from the back of the green.

And he kept things going coming home. Birdies on 10 and 11 put him on six-under for the day, 11-under for the tournament before a bogey on 15 threatened to spoil his afternoon.

Not until later, though. Two straight birdies followed – including another birdie at the Par 3 16th – left him in a three-way tie for the lead with overnight leader, Sam Burns, and Homa. 

Then Finau birdied 17 to briefly take the lead.

golf-feb-21-pga-the-genesis-invitational Finau tees off on the third. Source: Brian Rothmuller

Homa, however, was not finished. He had started so impressively, going out in 32, following six pars and birdies at the first, sixth and seventh.

When he birdied the tenth to move onto 11-under, he seemed set to strike. Six pars followed before he drew level with Finau with a birdie on 17.

By now Burns, the overnight leader, had dropped to 10-under – having shot a 31 on the front nine to move onto 13-under and seemingly on his way to the title.

But three bogeys on 12, 14 and 15 saw him slip off the lead for the first time since day one of the tournament.

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Homa was making his own move, birdying 17 to draw level with Finau, who by now was in the clubhouse.

Going down 18, Homa did everything perfectly in terms of his approach, producing a soft fade off the left hand side with his drive before he got his yardage perfect with his second, deliberately keeping it right of the flag. He was three feet from glory. His putt was slightly off. And so, he too, was on 12-under, ready for the play-off.

Burns, meanwhile, had birdied 17 to get back to 11-under.

He needed something special on the last but instead he produced something average, sending his approach off the green. A chip and a putt secured his par and third place.

And so, Finau and Homa were getting down to business in the play-off.

Finau was first to play. His tee shot on the short par-four 10th was brilliant, ending 40 yards from the pin, to the left of the green.

Up stepped Homa. His tee shot clattered into a tree – and left him with a nightmarish lie but he played an incredible shot to somehow find the green and leave himself with a chance to get birdie. Finau, too, with a simpler lie, put himself in position to birdie, following his chip and run.

Homa putted first, trickling his uphill putt gently to the right of the hole, inches away.

Finau had his chance – a five footer. It drifted from left to right, missing its intended target by a couple of inches.

The 14th was where they headed to next, a 188-yard par three. Finau played first, finding the bunker whereas Homa was perfect with his tee shot, ending 12 feet from the pin.

Finau’s bunker shot was somewhat undercooked, leaving Homa with the chance to win. His right-to-left putt was inches off target.

Next Finau had a putt from a slightly shorter distance to stay alive – but he struck it too firmly and it stayed left of the hole. Homa’s weight lifted whereas Finau’s wait for a first title since 2016 goes on.

About the author:

Garry Doyle

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