Max Homa just won the Farmers’ Insurance Open, his sixth PGA Tour tournament win, by shooting a six-under par 66 for a 13-under par total of 273 at Torrey Pines Golf Course located just north of San Diego, California. He was two strokes ahead of Keegan Bradley, who finished alone at second, and Collin Morikawa finished alone at third, three shots back.
Winless Sam Ryder had led the tournament all the way until he missed his drive to the right of the fairway on both the par four 15th and 17th holes. It cost him a whopping two double bogies to finish four strokes back in fourth place.
Homa has become sort of late bloomer on the PGA Tour and is now one of the best players out there. He has about the smoothest golf swing you’ll ever see. It enables him to hit such quality golf shots at the most opportune moments, when the pressure is really on, as he demonstrated today on the last three holes.
Ryder and Homa were tied for the lead at 12-under par total as Ryder drove right on the 15th hole and Homa was playing in the group ahead, on the long par three 16th hole. Max went for the difficult pin placement, tucked back left. He his a slightly cut three iron that homed in on the pin, finishing 15 feet from the hole. The television announcers said it was the closest shot to the pin they had seen today. Then Homa made his birdie putt to take the lead as Ryder soon made his double bogey that quickly knocked him out of contention.
It now looked like Homa might have a commanding lead except for one guy–veteran Keegan Bradley. He made a flurry of birdies that back nine to put a little pressure on Homa. The par four 17th hole may be the most important driving hole on the South Course there at Torrey Pines, which is a 36-hole public golf course, with the South Course the more difficult track. It is because there are barrancas that run throughout the layout which is nestled against the Pacific Ocean. And a barranca lines the left side of that very narrow 17th fairway. The safe play is to tee off with a three metalwood favoring the right side, so that it misses the fairway to the right the ball will not reach the two sand bunkers to the right. When I used to play the San Diego Open there, it was always a decision whether to do that or hit driver down the middle. But you can’t miss left or you’ll take a penalty shot.
Homa made the gutsy decision, playing his driver off the 17th tee, aiming at the edge of the barranca, and hitting a perfect fade in which the ball finished in the middle of the fairway with only a nine iron to a tight pin placement front right. He easily two putted for his par four.
I was thinking that maybe, with a one shot lead approaching the reachable par five 18th hole, maybe Homa should play safe with a three wood to the narrow fairway, lay up short of the small pond fronting the green, and have a easy wedge for his third shot. But not Homa. He went with the cut driver again, right in the middle of the fairway. He then hit his fairway metalwood (I think they said it was a seven-wood) perfect, almost right at pin. The ball landed safely in the middle of the green, thus easily clearlng the menacing water that gobble up a few balls today, and finished about a foot behind the green. Homa then putted his some 50-60-foot putt 3-4 feet past the hole, with an easy uphill putt for his birdie. He then made that two finish two shots clear of the field.