Two years after Max Homa played only one Sunday in an entire PGA Tour season, he showed his mettle at Quail Hollow by closing with a 4-under 67 to pull away from the field and win the Wells Fargo Championship.
Homa began the back nine with two birdies to build a four-shot lead and didn’t make any mistakes until it only affected the final margin.
Joel Dahmen saved par with a tough chip over the creek for a 70 and finished three shots behind.
Homa, who won the NCAA title at Cal in 2013, won for the first time in his 68th start as a pro. The victory gets him into the PGA Championship in two weeks at Bethpage Black and the Masters next April.
But what a turnaround for the 28-year-old Californian.
Homa was at No. 829 in the world when he got his third crack at the PGA Tour in October. Two seasons ago, he made only two cuts in 17 tournaments, missing the 54-hole cut in one of them and finishing last at an opposite-field event in the other.
But he made six of seven cuts coming into Quail Hollow, and played like he belonged. Homa never flinched, effectively sealing it with a long shot up the hill and onto the green at the par-5 15th for a two-putt birdie, saving par to keep a three-shot lead going to the final hole and drilling his tee shot down the fairway. He wrapped it up with a 10-foot par putt to finish at 15-under 269.
The victory was worth $1,422,000 — about $454,000 more than he had made in his previous 67 starts — and gives him a two-year exemption, along with a tee time at Bethpage Black in two weeks. The only other major Homa played was the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion, a month after his NCAA title.
Dahmen held his own until costly bogeys around the turn. But that chip was on the 18th for par to finish alone in second meant a difference of $158,000.
Justin Rose (68) finished alone in third and moved ahead of Brooks Koepka to No. 2 in the world.
PGA TOUR CHAMPIONS
THE WOODLANDS, Texas (AP) — Scott McCarron won the Insperity Invitational for his 10th PGA Tour Champions victory and second in three weeks.
The 53-year-old McCarron held off Scott Parel by two strokes, closing with a 5-under 67 to finish at 17-under 199 and match Fred Couples (2010) for the best score since the event moved to The Woodlands Country Club in 2008.
McCarron won the Mitsubishi Electric Classic two weeks ago in Georgia, then teamed with Brandt Jobe to tie for fifth last week in Missouri in the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf . The former UCLA player who won three times on the PGA Tour.
Parel shot a 66. He also finished second last month in Mississippi, losing to Kevin Sutherland on the seventh hole of a playoff.
After Parel birdied the par-5 15th to pull within a stroke, McCarron hit a 6-iron to a foot for birdie on the par-3 16th to push the advantage back to two shots. Parel missed a chance to pull within one on the par-4 17th when his 3-foot birdie putt caught the left edge and lipped out.
Both players parred the par-4 18th, with Parel forced to scramble after driving well left off a cart path and nearly into a garbage basket.
McCarron took a three-stroke lead into the final round, overcoming a stiff neck to shoot 67-65 in a 34 1/2-hole Saturday after most of the play Friday was wiped out because of lightning and heavy rain.
McCarron earned $330,000 and increased his lead in the season-long Charles Schwab Cup standings.
SHENZHEN, China (AP) — Mikko Korhonen of Finland overcame a three-shot deficit with a 6-under 66 and beat Benjamin Hebert in a playoff with an 8-foot birdie putt in the Volvo China Open.
The victory moves Korhonen into the top 100 in the world and is likely to earn another trip to the PGA Championship in New York.
Two shots behind at the turn, Korhonen birdied two straight holes to catch Hebert, and Hebert had to birdie the last at Genzon Golf Club for a 69 to force the playoff. They finished at 20-under 268.
Korhonen won for the second straight year on the European Tour. He won last year at the Shot Clock Masters.
Jorge Campillo of Spain, coming off a victory last week in Morocco, shot a 67 and missed the playoff by one shot.
China’s Kuang Yang closed with a 73 to tie for 55th. He was the second-youngest player (14 years, 6 months, 12 days) to make the cut in in a European Tour event. The record belongs to Guan Tianglang, who was a month younger when he made the cut in the 2013 Masters.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Robby Shelton won the Nashville Golf Open Benefitting the Snedeker Foundation for his first Web.com Tour victory, beating Scottie Scheffler with a birdie on the first hole of a playoff.
Shelton, the 23-year-old former Alabama player, also birdied the par-5 18th in regulation to match Scheffler at 15-under 273 at Nashville Golf & Athletic Club. He bogeyed the first holes after taking a three-stroke lead into the final round.
Scheffler shot 64. He bogeyed the 18th in regulation after playing the previous four holes in 5 under with an eagle and three birdies.
Henrik Norlander was a stroke back after a 69.
Katsumasa Miyamoto closed with a 1-under 69 for a one-shot victory over Shugo Imahira at The Crowns on the Japan Golf Tour. … Taehee Lee closed with an even-par 71 and beat Janne Kaske on the third hole of a playoff to win the GS Caltex Maekyung Open on the Asian Tour. Both players made a double bogey and then a bogey on the 18th hole in a playoff before Lee won with a birdie. … Antoine Rozner of France played the back nine in 5 under to cap off a 6-under 66 for a four-shot victory in the Challenge de Espana for his first victory on the Challenge Tour. … Martin Rowher completed a wire-to-wire victory with 11 points in the modified Stableford scoring system to win the Investec Royal Swazi Open over Steve Surry and Jake Roos on the Sunshine Tour. … Chile’s Cristobal Del Solar won the PGA Tour Latinoamerica’s Puerto Plata Open in the Dominican Republic, closing with a 2-under 69 for a one-stroke victory over American Scott Wolfes. … Nuria Iturrios of Spain won her second straight Ladies European Tour title by closing with a 1-under 71 in the inaugural Omega Dubai Moonlight Classic. The tournament, which ended Friday, featured players competing in one of the two opening rounds under special LED lights. … So Yeon Park closed with a 1-under 71 for a one-shot victory over Min Kyung Choi and Min Ji Park in the KyoChon Honey Ladies Open on the Korean LPGA Tour. … Minami Katsu shot a 5-under 67 and beat Mi-Jeong Jeon of South Korea (66) in a playoff in the Panasonic Open Ladies Golf on the Japan LPGA Tour.