Max Homa made his South African debut at the Nedbank Golf Challenge this week and he conquered the Gary Player Country Club. He fired off a final round 66 to finish at 19-under, beating Nicolai Højgaard by four shots and Thorbjørn Olesen by five.
Following his win, Homa took to social media with a hysterically self-deprecating message for fans:
The California native started the day with a one-shot lead. Olesen briefly caught him on the front nine as he made four birdies in his first six holes.
However, Homa didn’t let the Danish golfer’s hot start rattle him.
The American birdied the 2nd and 3rd holes. After dropping a shot at the par-3 4th, he bounced back with two more birdies on five and six.
His incredible 245-yard second shot on the par-5 9th set him up for a lengthy eagle putt. He made the 18-footer and to keep his momentum onto the back nine.
“It’s been a dream 10 or 11 days,” Homa said. “It was a crazy day – I got off to such a great start, and Thorbjørn was playing unbelievable. He kept pushing us along, and Nicolai was playing phenomenal golf, so it was fun.”
Olesen birdied the par-5 10th hole while Homa bogeyed the par-4 11th. From there, it looked like it would be a wild finish in South Africe.
But Olesen, the 7-time DP World Tour winner, made two costly mistakes on 12 and 13 posting back-to-back bogeys.
Homa made three crucial pars before adding two more birdies on 15 and 16 to get some separation. He would cruise from there to victory.
Højgaard kept his card clean with a bogey-free 4-under 68 to take solo second place.
Homa captured South Africa’s national open, but it was the entire experience that he’ll remember forever.
“It’s kind of what you dream of. You want to be in the fight, and it was just fun to kind of close it out at the end,” Homa said. “It was one of those weeks the ball wanted to go in when it needed to go in.
“It’s been tremendous to get to travel to a new place, meet so many amazing people — the fans have been amazing. Everyone has been so welcoming and kind. To come out with a trophy is just a cherry on top.”
Fellow American Justin Thomas shot a 6-under 66 on Sunday to finish fourth. Defending champion Tommy Fleetwood finished at 7-under and in a tie for 12th place.
This ‘major’ marks Homa’s first international win of his career. It may not be an official major championship victory, but it was a big one for the former Cal-Berkeley Golden Bear..
Savannah Leigh Richardson is a golf staff writer for SB Nation’s Playing Through. You can follow her on Twitter @SportsGirlSL and Instagram @savannah_leigh_sports for more golf coverage. Be sure to check out @_PlayingThrough too.