With regular tournament host Quail Hollow Club being prepped for this fall’s Presidents Cup, the Tour faced an unfamiliar course this week at the Wells Fargo Championship.
It ended up not mattering for Max Homa. Despite brutal conditions for much of the week, the 2019 Wells Fargo champion came out front again, reaching 8 under for the week to win by two strokes over Matt Fitzpatrick, Cameron Young and Keegan Bradley.
Played at Maryland’s TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm, the 31-year-old Cal-Berkeley product notched his fourth career victory, including his second of the 2022 PGA Tour season.
Homa began the final round two strokes behind Bradley, but his chances felt good from the start, given his strong record while in contention, and Bradley’s 0-3 career record when holding the 54-hole lead. Not that Bradley has not had considerable success of his own; he has four career victories himself, most notably the 2011 PGA Championship.
Homa needed just two holes to overcome the deficit. Opening with a birdie, he took the solo lead when bunker issues led to a double-bogey for Bradley on the par-5 2nd. He then added another bogey on 4 to suddenly fall two back of the lead, in a very short amount of time.
However, Bradley has proven to be a fighter repeatedly in his Tour career, and he did not let the sting of the double-bogey keep him down for long. The 35-year-old from Vermont impressively bounced back with birdies on 5, 7, and 8 to re-take the lead, with Homa carding a bogey on 7.
And again, Bradley’s lead was short-lived.
Homa stuck his tee shot on the par-3 9th to within ten feet and sunk the birdie to tie the lead at the turn. He then also birdied the par-5 10th to take a one-shot advantage that he would not relinquish again. Bradley made extra sure of that when he hit his approach on the par-4 11th into a native area. A drop led to a double-bogey, and suddenly, Homa was leading by three again.
There was a two-shot swing on 16 when Homa had to scramble to make bogey while Bradley birdied to get back within one with two strokes to go. However, he did not get any closer, finishing par-bogey while Homa finished par-par to wrap up the victory. That 18th hole bogey dropped Bradley, whose final Sunday tally was a 2-over 72, into a tie for second, as strong closing nines from Fitzpatrick and Young made it a three-way tie for the silver spot.
Finishing four strokes back in solo-fifth was three-time Wells Fargo champion Rory McIlroy. The popular four-time major champion began the final round six strokes behind Bradley and got himself into range when he played the first ten holes in 3-under. McIlroy played 1-over from there, with a birdie and two bogeys.
Pos-Name-Score (Rd 4)
1. Max Homa -8 (-2)
2. Cameron Young -6 (-4)
2. Matt Fitzpatrick -6 (-3)
2. Keegan Bradley -6 (+2)
5. Rory McIlroy -5 (-2)
6. Stephan Jaeger -3 (-4)
6. Lanto Griffin -3 (-3)
6. Anirban Lahiri -3 (+1)
9. Stewart Cink -2 (-5)
9. J.T. Poston -2 (-3)
9. Mackenzie Hughes -2 (-3)
9. Adam Schenk -2 (-2)
9. Brian Harman -2 (E)
9. James Hahn -2 (+2)
15. Jason Day -1 (E)
21. Sergio Garcia E (-2)
21. Rickie Fowler E (-2)
21. Corey Conners E (E)
37. Tyrrell Hatton +4 (+2)
41. Tony Finau +5 (+3)
56. Abraham Ancer +9 (+6)
How Max Homa Won the Wells Fargo Championship
After a tremendous 67-66 start, Homa was not quite as stellar in the awful conditions on Saturday, shooting a 1-over 71. But he limited his mistakes just enough to put himself well into striking distance on Sunday.
His 18 birdies for the week was fourth best in the field, and an eagle in round 2 offset the one hole of worse than bogey he had, a double in the first round. His all-around game was excellent, as finished the week third in strokes gained: off-the-tee, fourth in strokes gained: putting, and tenth in strokes gained: tee-to-green. His strong week putting kept going a much improved season on the greens, as Homa currently ranks 29th on Tour in strokes gained: putting, a year after finishing 118th.
Max Homa’s Winning Numbers
Driving: 291.5 yards (29th)
Fairways: 40/56, 71.43% (20th)
Greens: 46/72, 63.89% (28th)
Putts: 1.609 (4th)
Birdies: 18 (4th)
Strokes Gained: Total: 15.039 (1st)
What It Means For Homa
Homa’s fourth win means a significant rise in his FedExCup standing (20th to 6th) and his world ranking (38th to 29th). It is the first time in his career that he has been in the top 30 of the OWGR.
Homa should see increased pressure to be much more competitive in the majors. As much success as he has had on the Tour now, his majors record is very underwhelming. In ten career major starts, he has made the cut that last three times, with nothing better than a T40 (2021 Open Championship). To his credit, two of those made cuts were in his last two starts. He also posted a T13 at THE PLAYERS Championship in March, which is the closest thing on Tour to a major without officially being one.
This victory also puts Homa in a great spot to make the Presidents Cup team this fall at Quail Hollow, something he has expressed desperately wanting to be a part of.
Max Homa’s 2022 PGA Tour Season
Cuts Made: 12
Wins: 2 (Fortinet, Fargo)
Additional Top 10: 1
Earnings: $4,134,510 (7th)
FedExCup Pts: 1,342 (6th)
World Rank Before/After: 38/29
Sunday’s Stars at TPC Potomac
Sunday’s low round came from one of the older players in the field: 48-year-old Stewart Cink, who shot a 5-under 67 to jump a field high 30 spots from T39 to T9. It was the second top-10 in the last four starts for Cink, who had been struggling earlier this year coming off a surprising two-win second in 2019. His 22 birdies led the field for the week, and he carded just one bogey on Sunday after carding eight of them in a Saturday 74.
Stephan Jaeger has jumped back-and-forth between the PGA Tour and the Korn Ferry Tour since 2013, but greatly improved his chances of keeping his PGA Tour card next season with a final-round bogey-free 4-under 66, which jumped him 18 spots on the final leaderboard from T24 to T6. It was the first career top-10 for the 32-year-old German, who was making his 82nd start, and was coming off a T15 at last week’s Mexico Open at Vidanta.
Former world No. 1 Luke Donald, a 44-year-old Brit with five career Tour victories, has struggled badly with his game over the past five seasons, but at least on Sunday, he was shades of his former self, carding three birdies over his final four holes to shoot a 3-under 67. His best round of the week moved him up 19 spots from T44 to T25.
Sergio Garcia made news for all the wrong reasons in the first round, when an outburst with officials was recorded after he felt his clock started too early on a ball he could not find. That video went viral, which was not a good look for the Spaniard, but the former Masters winner did at least end the tournament strong, shooting a 2-under 68 to move up ten spots from T31 to T21.
Sunday’s Stumbles at the Wells Fargo
Matthew Wolff has been one of the Tour’s most hit-or-miss golfer in the past few years. Struggling horribly since the calendar year began, Wolff looked like he was close to his better form again when he opened the tournament with a 5-under 65. He wasn’t great in round 2 (73) or round 3 (70), but was still in a share of sixth place going into the final round. Unfortunately for the 22-year-old, Wolff carded an early triple-bogey on the par-4 4th hole, and never completely recovered. His 3-over 73 dropped him 19 spots into a share of 25th place.
Luke List was a winner earlier this season when he took January’s Farmers Insurance Open in a playoff. He had failed to record even a top-50 in stroke play since but was in good shape when he opened the Wells Fargo 68-66. The weekend was a much different story for the 37-year-old, however, as List followed up a Saturday 74 with another 74 on Sunday, which dropped him 25 spots from T6 to T31.
Tony Finau has had a poor season by his standards, but there was hope he was trending in the right direction when he finished T2 at last week’s Mexico Open at Vidanta. This week? Not so much. A 3-over 73 on Sunday, lowlighted by a triple-bogey 7 on the par-4 11th, moved him down 10 spots on the final day, where he finished T41.
“Keegan is a really good golfer. He hits it so well and he holed some really good putts. I was just trying to play my game and kinda see what happened. He made an unbelievable birdie on 15 when I was trying not to make double. So, I knew he was just never going to go away; I was watching the guys behind, but I felt 8-, 9-under for a while was going to be pretty good, and I just tried to keep hitting shots and not worry about the bogeys and the pars, just keep hitting good shots.”
– Max Homa, 2022 Wells Fargo Champion