Willett’s horror finish hands Homa Fortinet title

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Willett’s horror finish hands Homa Fortinet title

Fortinet champ Max Homa (Photo by Orlando Ramirez/Getty Images)

A Danny Willett three-putt from four feet on the 72nd green saw the Fortinet Championship slip through the Englishman’s grasp and into the grateful clutches of Max Homa on Sunday.

Former Masters champ Willett looked to have played the par-5 last just as he needed to; laying up to a nice wedge number and zipping his approach to inside four feet. However, Willett’s birdie putt to win outright was hit too firmly, lipping out left before he did the unthinkable and missed the one back, handing a disbelieving Homa back-to-back victories at the Championship.

“The last like three minutes are kind of a blur, but I played really good golf, I played solid,” said Homa who carded a four-under 68 in the final round, including a brilliant chip-in birdie at the last to set the target at 16-under and apply the pressure on Willett.

“Danny and Justin [Lower] both played great, but I just tried to play my game and just see where it got me. I don’t know, it was a wild finish.”

To his enormous credit, Willett faced the media despite surely wanting the ground to swallow him whole, admitting that his playing partner’s putt influenced his thinking at the last.

“Justin’s obviously stayed right on the first one, which was a bit strange with how I was seeing mine because I saw mine pretty nicely left to right,” Willett explained.

“I hit it obviously far too hard. And on the way back from where he was coming from, I thought it was straighter. Again, yeah, just ended up tailing off and missing left. Yeah, disappointing way to finish, but you know, first out of the season, like I said, to be in contention, things are in a good place. Yeah, we’ll live to fight another day.”

For his victory, Homa pocketed a cool $1,440,000 while Willett takes home a consolation cheque worth $872,000.

The victory is Homa’s third in just over 12 months and sees him rise to 16th on the Official World Golf Rankings. The pre-tournament favourite going into the week, the Californian admits his recent run is the stuff of dreams but then again, he finally has the belief that he’s found his place at the top of the game.

“Yeah, a little bit like a dream, and then oddly enough a little bit like this is where I’m supposed to be,” he said.

“I work very hard. I work very, very hard. I give pretty much everything I’ve got into being as good as I can at this game. So I guess at times like this week, you know, I came in here and it was weird to be — I was like the betting favourite. My buddy DJ sent me that and he said, “What a world.”

“And oddly, it felt OK. It didn’t feel like too much pressure. I try to look at things, there’s always two ways to look at something, a negative and a positive. I went in here thinking I think old me maybe would have looked at this as almost a burden and expectation can be difficult to manage. I looked at it as this is really cool to be playing golf where, as far as gambling goes, I should win or I have the best chance to win.

“I kind of started to believe that about myself, but I’ve been playing some really good golf for a couple years and it’s just the things I’m learning about closing golf tournaments and being in contention are growing fast and then the golf game is getting solid and staying solid.

“I just feel a lot more comfort as I step onto the first tee on a Thursday and it doesn’t seem to change too much going into the weekend.”

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