Danny Willett suffered a golfer’s worst nightmare on Sunday night when he went three-footer to win on the PGA Tour – and then tried to lose the resulting tee shot.
Max Homa could not believe his luck. Walking up to the final green at the Fortinet Championship, the American was all but relieved to see his English playing partner pick up the £1.27 million winners’ cheque.
Homa was behind and was still off the green in three on the par five, with Willett looking good for birdie. Even as Homa, the defending champion, was still chipping away at Willett lifting his first title on US soil since the 2016 Masters.
But then came Willett’s terrible three-putt, after he grazed the hole with his first attempt, and suddenly Homa was celebrating her fourth win in two years. In true Yorkshire style, Willett, 34, took victory on the chin, despite realizing the fall had cost him nearly £500,000, the difference between first and second.
“We will live to fight another day,” he said. “It’s a shame how it ended but I’m pretty sure they were the only point I missed all week. Just a shame to do it when I did. One of them things. Sometimes you wish you could rewind time. We learn from it and move on.”
It was Willett’s first success in 12 months and would have pulled him back into the top 50 in the world after an indifferent season.
But he should and will take the positives from a week in Napa, California where he got to 15 under and played some great shots, especially on the 14th in his final round 69 when he bogeyed to within 15 feet.
His display at the Dunahill Links Championship in Fife next week will be impressive in his defence, where he will look to emerge as a serious contender for next year’s Ryder Cup.
“Obviously I’ll remember that last putt, but overall it was a good week and it was nice to be in contention from Friday,” he said. “Things are in a good place.”
For his part, Homa felt he had his home in the USA for this week’s President’s Cup in North Carolina. Davis Love selected the starter as one of his six wild cards and was the subject of cruel social media ridicule.
“A lot of people have told me if the LIV boys hadn’t gone, I wouldn’t have made the President’s Cup team,” he said. “So I had a bit of a chip on my shoulder here.”