Golf: Max Homa beats Tony Finau in playoff to capture Genesis Invitational title at Riviera

Max Homa (above) defeated Tony Finau in a playoff to win The Genesis Invitational, on Feb 21, 2021.
Max Homa (above) defeated Tony Finau in a playoff to win The Genesis Invitational, on Feb 21, 2021.PHOTO: AFP

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - Hometown hero Max Homa parred the second playoff hole on Sunday (Feb 22) to defeat Tony Finau and capture the PGA Tour's Genesis Invitational after both had botched short putts for the title.

Finau missed a par putt from just inside 10 feet on the par-three 14th at Riviera Country Club to give Homa his second career crown after the 2019 Wells Fargo Championship.

"I've been watching this tournament my whole life. It's why I fell in love with golf," said an emotional Homa, who grew up in nearby Burbank.

"I didn't think it would feel like this... I'm hoping this is just kind of the beginning."

The 30-year-old American fired a bogey-free five-under 66 to finish 72 holes level with compatriot Finau (64) at 12-under 272 at the Tiger Woods-hosted event.

Homa was among 23 players who had to finish their third round on Sunday morning after high winds on Saturday produced unplayable conditions for almost four hours. In 25 total holes on Sunday, he never made a bogey.

"I got it done. I'm very proud," he said. "Playing like Tiger today."

He also compared himself to two other reigning Los Angeles champions, the National Basketball Association's Lakers and Major League Baseball's Dodgers.

"City of Champions - Dodgers, Lakers and me now," he said. "It's a weird feeling."

World No. 15 15 Finau and 91st-ranked Homa both overtook 54-hole leader Sam Burns down the stretch in the final round, then each squandered a chance at victory.

Homa dropped a wedge shot at the 72nd hole only three feet from the cup, but his birdie putt to win lipped out off the left edge of the cup, setting up the play-off with Finau.

The playoff began on the par-four 10th, where Homa's tee shot landed next to a tree. He found the green in two but missed a curling 10-footer, leaving Finau a three-foot birdie putt for the trophy, which he missed to extend matters.

The duel moved to the 14th, where Finau hit into the bunker and Homa left himself 10 feet for birdie. Finau blasted out just inside Homa's ball and got a read off Homa's curling miss.

After Homa tapped in for par, Finau's par bid rolled right of the cup and he had to settle for a third consecutive runner-up finish after the Saudi International two weeks ago and Torrey Pines three weeks ago.

"I'm disappointed," Finau said. "I didn't execute the shot I was trying to hit on the last hole and had it bite me in the butt."

'Bittersweet' for Finau

Finau yearns for victory. He has made 127 starts since his only PGA Tour triumph at the 2016 Puerto Rico Open.

He has 21 top-five PGA Tour finishes since the start of the 2016-17 season, the most of any player without a victory in that span.

"I was able to make some key putts and stay in it," he said of his day. "I fell short but I was able to take a lot of positives from it.

"It's bittersweet right now. My game is in a great place. I know how well I'm playing."

Burns made bogeys at the 12th, 14th and 15th - the week's hardest-playing holes - and could not hole a 43-foot chip shot at the 18th to make the playoff, settling for a career-best third on 273 after a closing 69.

The world No. 149 missed out on his first PGA Tour victory and a chance to become the event's first wire-to-wire winner since Charlie Sifford in 1969.

The last tour player to lead for three rounds and not win was South Korea's Kim Si-woo at the 2019 Texas Open.

Australia's Cameron Smith (67) was fourth on 275 with second-ranked Spaniard Jon Rahm (66), Norway's Viktor Hovland (67) and England's Matthew Fitzpatrick (71) sharing fifth on 277.

Top-ranked Dustin Johnson, the reigning Masters champion, fired a 72 to share eighth on 278.

American Scott Harrington's aced the par-three sixth with a six-iron.