Californian Max Homa has outlasted Tony Finau to win his second PGA Tour title at a course he described as ‘the best golf course in the world’.
Homa parred the second hole of a playoff against Finau at Riviera Country Club in the suburbs of Los Angeles, after the pair had finished one shot ahead of long-time leader Sam Burns with Australian Cameron Smith alone in 4th place.
Smith reeled of a final round of 67 on the demanding layout and at one stage had climbed within two of the lead but despite being unable to win his second individual PGA Tour title he has recorded yet another impressive finish, this time on one of the finer layouts on the PGA Tour.
Smith’s effort overcomes a slow start to the year on the PGA Tour and bodes well for a return to Augusta National in seven weeks-time where he finished runner-up to Dustin Johnson three months ago at the delayed 2020 Masters.
Smith was delighted with the manner in which he hit the ball: “I think I probably hit it as good as I could today. I left a few iffy puts there on the back nine that could have gone in, but hit really good shots. It was just Riviera out there on the back nine, just punishing you unnecessarily sometimes, but that’s golf.
“I thought I struck it probably the best I’ve struck it in a very long time, three, four years probably. It’s nice to get back in that groove.
Matt Jones also challenged for the title at various stages during the final round but a triple bogey after driving out of bounds at the 12th followed by a bogey at the 15th cost him any chance of a higher finish.
Jones did though birdie his final two holes to finish 8th and continues a solid run of form of late during which he has made his last ten cuts although this is his best finish by some way in this event.
Marc Leishman was 32nd and Adam Scott recorded a final round of 66 to finish 38th, Cameron Davis 43rd and Danny Lee 52nd.
The winner Homa, secured his second PGA Tour title having won the Wells Fargo event eighteen months ago.
“I think I have a game that fits difficult golf courses and I finally started to build a mind that fits difficult golf courses,” said Homa.
“So I come here where I know it very well, I feel very comfortable. I think it’s the best golf course in the world. We mix all these things together and you start to see some really good golf. But I’m hoping this is kind of just
the beginning. I’m not sure what the next hardest golf course is, but I’ll give it a try.
“I don’t know if I could ever do anything cooler in golf than than this. Just for me, for my caddie Joe, we were raised 25 miles north of here. I mean, Tiger Woods is handing us a trophy, that’s a pretty crazy thought.
“We grew up idolizing him, idolizing Riviera Country Club, idolizing the golf tournament. To get it done, it’s almost shocking, but it just feels — it feels like it just can’t be topped just for me.”
There were mixed emotions for Finau who has been knocking on the door for some time now in his search for a second PGA Tour title.
“Yeah, a little bit bitter right now just coming off that playoff. Had a chance to win on that first playoff hole and decided to play that putt a little downhill and shouldn’t have.
“I played really nicely today and I think that’s going to be the big takeaway of the week from me is, you know, anytime I’ve had a chance to win, I haven’t been the guy that went low and today I was, so I can take a lot of confidence from that.
“That’s something that I wanted to happen today to just prove to myself on Sundays that I can put myself in the thick of it and shoot a number and I was able to do that this week. So I think at the end of the day I’m going to be able to look back on that and have a lot of positives to take from it.”
The Winner, Max Homa – photo Getty Images Harry How