Valencia’s Max Homa won the 2021 Genesis Invitational at the Riviera Country Club on Sunday by shooting a par 3 on the second playoff hole against Tony Finau, who hit into a bunker and bogeyed the hole.
At age 30, this was Homa’s second PGA Tour title and he earned $1,674,000, bringing his season earnings (since September) to $2,254,609, ninth highest on the Tour.
Sam Burns, who shot 64-66 to take a 5-shot lead after 36 holes, struggled to a 74 in the third round but still led by two ahead of Homa, No. 1-ranked Dustin Johnson and Matt Fitzpatrick on Sunday. He had three bogeys in a four-hole stretch on the back nine and finished one shot behind.
Playing one hole ahead of Homa, Finau parred the 72nd hole to finish with a 64, the day’s lowest round. He had eight birdies and just one bogey and finished the tournament at 12 under.
At about the same time, Homa sank a 6-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole to go 12 under. He then hit a great second shot on 18, just 40 inches from the hole, to earn a chance to win the tournament outright. But the putt lipped out on the left side, bringing about the playoff.
Homa shot a 66 on Sunday, matching the 66 he shot in the first round.
Beginning the playoff on the short par-4 10th hole, Finau hit a beautiful drive close to the green and Homa’s landed next to a tree trunk. He somehow managed to chip the ball onto the green and both golfers missed their birdie putts.
The second playoff hole was the par 3 14th. Finau’s iron shot landed in a bunker, while Homa nailed his shot about 11 feet from the pin. Finau blasted out to within 10 feet but missed the putt after Homa two-putted.
After his win, Homa was understandably emotional, as he said, “I’ve been watching this tournament my whole life. It’s why I fell in love with golf.” He first attended the Riviera event when he was two-years-old.
He later Twittered, “I saw Tiger the other day. I was too scared to talk to him, but he’s forced into talking to me today so it’s going to be a pretty awesome moment.”
Finau, who was also seeking his second Tour victory, had only the second 64 of the tournament (along with Burns), and seven of his birdies came on putts inside of 10 feet. The Golf Channel noted he was two shots better than anyone else in the field on Sunday. He earned $1,013,700 for his efforts.
Dustin Johnson was in the mix until the back nine, when he had five bogeys in eight holes. He ended with a 72 and tied for eighth. Last year’s champion, Adam Scott, tied for 38th and took home just $40,455 this time.
The weather played an important factor in the third round, when play had to be halted for about four hours because of high winds. Twenty-three golfers were unable to complete their rounds. Reflecting the weather conditions, the average score was 73 for the entire field.