Pawtucket Times

Homa holds off Bradley

- By BEN NUCKOLS

POTOMAC, Md. — Max Homa played solid, steady golf during a week of cold, wet conditions and a backand-forth Sunday duel with Keegan Bradley, closing with a 2-under 68 for a two-shot victory in the Wells Fargo Championsh­ip.

An emerging star on the PGA Tour whose only missing achievemen­t is contention in a major, the 31-year-old Homa finished at 8-under 272 at TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm. He won for the fourth time overall, third in 15 months and second since he gave up his popular podcast.

“I just feel like I’m coming into my own. I’m starting to believe in myself a lot and that’s all I can ask for,” said Homa, whose next start will be in two weeks at the PGA Championsh­ip.

With his win last September in Napa, California, Homa joins Scottie Scheffler (four), Hideki Matsuyama (two), Sam Burns (two) and Cameron Smith (two) as multiple winners on tour this season. He also moves to sixth in the Presidents Cup standings, meaning he’s in position to earn a return visit this September to the Wells Fargo’s usual home, Quail Hollow in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Homa got his first career win in 2019 at Quail Hollow, which took the year off as Wells Fargo host while it prepares for the U.S.-versus-Internatio­nal team competitio­n. TPC Potomac, which last hosted the tour in 2018, filled in ably despite torrential rain on Friday and Saturday and unseasonab­ly cold temperatur­es most of the week.

Bradley started the day with a two-shot lead, gave it away on the par-5 second hole and took it back on the par-4 eighth before Homa finally took command for good on the back nine. A bogey on the closing hole gave Bradley a 2-over 72 and a tie for second with Cameron Young and Matt Fitzpatric­k.

Homa played conservati­vely Saturday, the toughest scoring day of the week, but was aggressive right away Sunday while keeping his umbrella stowed in his golf bag for the first time since the opening round.

He twirled his 7-iron as he watched his approach on the par-4 first hole settle 8 feet from the hole. A lob wedge to 8 feet on the par-4 fifth was good for another birdie, and a 7-iron inside 10 feet on the par-3 ninth allowed him to turn in 34, 2 under for the day and tied with Bradley, who steadied himself after a nervy start.

Seeking to move high enough in the world ranking to secure a spot in the U.S. Open at The Country Club in Brookline, Massachuse­tts, the 35-year-old New England native hit a poor shot from a greenside bunker on the par-5 second hole, leading to double bogey. Afterward, caddie Scott Vail asked police to eject a couple of heckling fans.

Bradley rallied with a 21foot birdie and a firm fist pump on the par-4 fifth, a par save from a difficult lie on the sixth, a 14-footer that he walked in for birdie on the seventh and an 8-iron to 4 feet on No. 8 for another birdie.

The next two of five twoshot swings between the final pairing belonged to Homa. Bradley found a penalty area right of the green on the 11th hole, the toughest on the course this week, and made double bogey while Homa saved par. When Homa converted another birdie on the par-4 15th, he had a three-shot lead with three to play.

Homa had to make a 5-footer for bogey on the par-4 16th as Bradley made birdie to move within one. The pair traded pars on 17 and when Homa lagged his birdie putt to tap-in range on 18, it was finally over.

Young made six birdies ranging in length from 8 feet to 6 inches in his closing 66 for his third runner-up finish in the 24-year-old’s rookie season on tour. Fitzpatric­k birdied the 18th to conclude a bogey-free 67. *

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