Homa chips in, wins in Napa after Willett’s shocking 3-putt
BY JANIE MCCAULEY
St. Louis Post Dispatch
NAPA, Calif. — Max Homa chipped in from nearly 33 feet for birdie on the closing hole, then watched as Danny Willett shockingly three-putted from inside 4 feet on Sunday to give Homa his second straight title at the Fortinet Championship. Homa high-fived his caddie when his ball hit the flagstick and dropped. His previous shot from a nearby bunker came up short of the green at the par-5 18th hole. Willett, meanwhile, had a oneshot lead at the rain-soaked PGA Tour season opener and stuffed his third shot to 3 feet, 7 inches. He rammed his first putt 4 feet, 8 inches by, then missed the comebacker to hand Homa his fifth victory on tour. “Them things happen. Luckily we’ve been in a good position all week and then unfortunate things happen when you feel like you need them most,” said Willett, who’s winless in the United States since he took advantage of Jordan Spieth’s collapse to win the 2016 Masters. Homa closed with a 4-under 66 for a total of 16-under 272 and now heads to Charlotte, North Carolina, as a captain’s pick for the Presidents Cup with three wins in the past 12 months. Willett shot 69. Taylor Montgomery was alone in third at 13 under after a closing 64. The leaders had their tee times pushed up by nearly four hours in an effort to get the round in before the North course at Silverado Resort & Spa became completely unplayable. Greens that had been hard and fast earlier in the week from the sun and wind were suddenly quite the opposite, slow and soft from all the water. Justin Lower held a one-stroke lead going into the final day while chasing his first title after years of struggles just to secure his tour card. The 33-year-old American wound up tied for fourth with Byeong Hun An at 12 under after shooting a 1-over 73. Willett birdied three holes on the front nine to take a threestroke lead, only to miss a short par putt on the par-5 ninth as Lower birdied to pull back within a stroke. Homa and Willett began the day one shot back of Lower. All three players birdied the par-4 10th. On the par-4 14th, Willett made a miraculous birdie. His tee shot landed behind a tree, and then he whipped the ball around it to the back side of the fringe before sinking a 5-foot putt. On the front nine, Willett birdied Nos. 1, 4 and 8 — making a 7-footer for birdie on the par-4 eighth while Lower made bogey. The 34-year-old Willett, from Sheffield, England, stayed loose, laughed with his caddied and smiled between holes in far from ideal conditions in California’s famous wine country: wind and heavy rain the first three holes, a brief respite, then more rain. He regularly toweled off his clubs, wiped off his shoes before putting and took on and off his black sleeveless vest. The weather made for an intimate gallery of umbrella-holding diehards willing to brave the elements. “It’s what I came to California for,” Willett cracked with a grin in the early going of his final round.