Max Homa Claims PGA Tour Opener After Late McNealy Error

Max Homa Claims PGA Tour Opener After Late McNealy Error

Max Homa Season Opener
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The start of the new PGA Tour season didn't disappoint as an enthralling finish led to Max Homa securing his third PGA Tour title.

Max Homa Claims PGA Tour Opener After Late McNealy Error

After only a two-week break, the PGA Tour returned for its 2021/22 season, with Max Homa dazzling on the back nine.

Producing a five-under-par stretch over the last seven holes, and, thanks to a costly double bogey from Maverick McNealy on the 17th, Homa claimed the first event of the year by one shot.

After securing the victory at the Fortinet Championship, the American now has a hattrick of PGA Tour titles, with the win his second in his home state of California.

Max Homa Season Opener

Homa celebrates next to the Fortinet trophy. (Scott Strazzante/San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images)

"This week I did an awesome job. I was awful the back end of last season. I thought I was doing a good job of being myself. I wasn't as much -- I got maybe a little burnt out by the end of last season.

"I know we only had two weeks off, but I really believed I learned a lot from those weeks and kind of put that to use in the two weeks I had to kind of prep for this season."

Having started the day two shots back of fellow countrymen Jim Knous and McNealy, Homa ended his front nine well, with three birdies over the four remaining holes putting him to 15-under-par.

Related: Max Homa What's In The Bag?

With the overnight leaders out on the course, we did see a final round surge from Australian, Marc Leishman, who had comprised a seven-under-par 65 to set the clubhouse target at 15-under.

Despite Maverick McNealy holding a two shot lead starting the back nine, and Homa making a bogey at the 10th, Homa would recover, with a superb hole-out eagle on the par-4 12th being followed by a birdie at the 13th.

See more

McNealy on the other hand, couldn't match the pace set by Homa, with a run of pars ending with a birdie at the 16th which put him one shot back playing the par-4 17th.

Then came a huge mistake from the young American, with his tee shot clattering a tree and only going 166-yards, he went on to make a costly double bogey, putting him three shots back playing the last.

What was a bigger kick in the teeth for McNealy was that he went on to eagle the par-5 18th, with the 25-year-old finishing one shot shy of Homa, who, only moments later, had set the target at 19-under-par.

See more

Related: 12 Potential Future USA Ryder Cup Debutants

"I've always said winning is very fickle. I don't think that it means you're necessarily the best golfer," said Homa.

"Obviously it helps, but you look at someone like Tony Finau, who is clearly a world beater and I think he's won two times. So winning is random, but you just have to keep putting yourself in the position to accomplish that goal and Maverick does that a lot. I don't think there's ever going to be a worry about him ever winning."

Matt Cradock
Staff Writer

Matt joined Golf Monthly in February 2021 covering weekend news, before also transitioning to equipment and testing. After freelancing for Golf Monthly and The PGA for 18 months, he was offered a full-time position at the company in October 2022 and continues to cover weekend news and social media, as well as help look after Golf Monthly’s many buyers’ guides and equipment reviews.

Taking up the game when he was just seven years of age, Matt made it into his county squad just a year later and continues to play the game at a high standard, with a handicap of around 2-4. To date, his best round came in 2016, where he shot a six-under-par 66 having been seven-under through nine holes. He currently plays at Witney Lakes in Oxfordshire and his favourite player is Rory McIlroy, despite nearly being struck by his second shot at the 17th during the 2015 BMW PGA Championship.

Matt’s current What’s In The Bag?

Driver: Honma TW747, 8.75°

Fairway Wood: TaylorMade Rocketballz Stage 2, 15°, 19°

Hybrid: Adams Super Hybrid, 22°

Irons: Mizuno MP54, 5-PW

Wedges: Cleveland 588 RTX 2.0 Tour Satin, 50°, 56°, 60°

Putter: Cleveland TFI 2135 Satin Cero

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x