Homa's breakthrough, Rory's Sunday scaries return, Koepka-Chamblee feud reignited, 14-year-old makes history and Tiger set for White House honor: What you missed
Welcome to the Dew Sweeper, your one-stop shop to catch up on the weekend action from the golf world. From the professional tours, trending news, social media headlines and upcoming events, here's every golf-related thing you need to know for the morning of May 6.
Homa's relentless pursuit pays off
"Relentless." A word tattooed on Max Homa's arm, and apropos of his journey. Homa, two years removed from missing 15 of 17 cuts on the PGA Tour, turned in a four-under 67 to capture the Wells Fargo Championship, his first career victory.
"I didn't know if this day would ever come let alone just keep my card, but it's been very validating," Homa said on Sunday night. "I've been working my tail off and I've been seeing a lot of great results, and my gosh, it's cool to do it here because I love this place as much as anyone."
A finish all the more incredible when realizing where it started. Homa lost his card in 2017 after making just $18,008; last year on the Web.com Tour, he needed a back-nine 30 on Friday at regular-season finale Portland Open to make the cut and earn a spot in the Web playoffs. The return to tour was inauspicious, failing to make the weekend in six of his first seven events. He entered Quail Hollow ranked 118th in strokes gained and 417th in the world.
However, a 63 on Friday put Homa into the mix, and began the final round tied with Joel Dahmen and Jason Dufner. The Berkeley product made the turn in two under, and birdies at the 10th and 11th—coupled with Dahmen bogeys at the ninth and 11th—bestowed some breathing room to Homa. The former NCAA champ effectively wrapped up the title with a six-foot par save on the 14th after an hour rain delay, adding a birdie at the 15th for good measure. The 67 was tied for low score of the round, giving him a three-shot victory over Dahmen.
The win gets Homa into the PGA Championship in two weeks, his first major as a pro (he played in the 2013 U.S. Open as an am), and the $1.4 million winner's check more than doubled his career tour earnings. More importantly, it awards a two-year exemption, giving the relentless Homa a chance to relax.
"I'm usually good with words, but I don't think I have any," Homa said. "It's a little job security and it's fun. I got to do it alongside one of my best friends in the world. Man, that felt very, very good."
Sunday scaries return for Rory
Rory McIlroy's Sunday struggles were supposed to be dead, buried off the island green following his triumph at Sawgrass. Alas, those demons emerged from their watery grave to wreak havoc in Charlotte.
McIlroy, statistically the best player in golf this season, was supposed to be the man to beat on Sunday. He was two shots behind the leaders—two of which were looking for their first win—and Quail Hollow has been a second home to McIlroy with six top 10s in eight Wells Fargo starts. Instead, it was McIlroy that looked like the greenhorn.
Following six straight pairs to start his round, McIlroy had 25 feet or so for eagle on the par-5 seventh, but left five feet on the birdie try, which he failed to convert. On the 315-yard par-4 eighth, McIlroy's drive was just 37 feet from the pin, yet he could not get up-and-down for birdie, and followed with a three-putt at the ninth for a bogey.
The official ejection came at the 10th. After his second came up just short at the reachable par 5 (the fourth-easiest hole of the week), McIlroy flubbed two straight chips, and his third wasn't to tap-in range. McIlroy, visibly unnerved from the short-game woes, missed the bogey attempt, the double putting an end to his tournament aspirations. He finished with a two-over 73, eight shots back of Homa.
Before traveling too far down this path, McIlroy has been phenomenal in 2019, first in strokes gained and eight top-10s in 10 starts. Mentioned above, he won the Players Championship, a point that should be underlined, highlighted, shouted from the rooftops. He heads to Bethpage at the PGA favorite, and the Black's confines are catered to McIlroy's game (especially with the wet spring the Northeast has suffered).
Conversely, why McIlroy, once considered lights-out on the brightest stages, continues to trip up on Sundays—he ranks a ghastly 93rd in fourth-round scoring—is a point of great wonder. Attempting to right that ship on one of the world's toughest tracks will be appointment viewing in two weeks.
Latest chapter in Koepka-Chamblee feud
Media-generated feuds in sports are tiresome, up there with mayoral championship bets, vacated NCAA wins and mock drafts as things that deserve a dishonorable death. However, when an athlete claps back to the howling, it admittedly does make for good theater. Especially when this isn't the first go-around for the player and personality.
Bringing us to Brandel Chamblee and Brooks Koepka. During the Masters, the erudite, occasionally-acerbic Chamblee choose an interesting hill to battle on. After initially citing Koepka's curious weight loss as "reckless self-sabotage," Chamblee doubled-down later in the week by calling the three-time major winner's toughness into question. Koepka finished second to Tiger Woods at Augusta National; that silver medal, along with wins at the U.S. Open and PGA in his last four major starts, seemingly put Chamblee's question to bed, right?
On a recent Golf Channel podcast, Chamblee was asked what players could keep up with Woods if the 43-year-old continues his lights-out play. "In the aggregate, you’d have Dustin [Johnson] and Rory [McIlroy] who are the likely two who could hang with him," Chamblee said. "Jon Rahm’s still got a lot to learn. His iron play’s not as sharp as it needs to be to be the best player in the world, and it forces him to have to pitch the ball … his pitching, generally speaking, is not as good as it needs to be. And [Jordan] Spieth’s game has fallen off. So it’s really only two players who could challenge him.
"Irrespective of the World Rankings, I think all of us know what we need to know without the World Rankings telling us, and it’s Rory and it’s Dustin Johnson and it’s Tiger Woods, but Tiger’s simply not going to play enough to get the points that he needs to get."
A pretty glaring omission, particularly when said omission fancies himself as John Wick to every perceived slight. So when Koepka caught wind of Chamblee's latest comments, he responded with...well, a Microsoft paint clown nose on Chamblee's photo.
Ok, not exactly Keanu Reeves' "People keep asking if I'm back" speech. But as close as we're going to come to it in golf.
Chamblee's not the hot take machine he's sometimes portrayed as, and brings a perspective to the game that it desperately lacks. Conversely, might be time the colorful commentator waves the white flag on this one.
14-year-old makes Euro cut, vet wins China Open
A journeyman won the China Open, but a prodigy stole the show.
Mikko Korhonen has been to European Tour Qualifying School 12 times, a frequency that makes a player question if it's time to seek a new profession. Yet Korhonen kept with it, earning his breakthrough last season with his maiden victory at the Shot Clock Masters (and backed up the following week with a runner-up at the BMW International Open). The 38-year-old proved 2018 was more than a two-week hot streak by grabbing his second Euro Tour victory at the Genzon course just outside Shenzen this weekend, defeating France’s Benjamin Hebert in sudden death.
“It’s amazing,” Korhonen said. “I don’t know how I did it, probably the putter today and most of the days. All day it was a battle, everybody was making putts. I had to just stay there and make my putts and just concentrate on the moment.”
Down three to start his day, Korhonen turned in seven birdies to take a one-shot lead on the 18th. Hebert answered by driving the 314-yard last, making his own red figure to force a playoff. But replaying the 18th, Hebert rocketed his birdie attempt well past the hole while Korhonen converted, giving the Finn the W. Spain's Jorge Campillo, who won his first career victory last week, finished in third, his fifth top-three finish in his last six starts.
Though Korhonen took the trophy, Yang Kuang took the headlines. Kuang, all of 14 years old, made his Euro Tour debut at the China Open thanks to winning the Volvo China Junior Match Play Championship in December. His start was more than ceremony, making a 15-footer on Friday to gain entry into the week.
“I’m too happy, I have no words to describe it,” Kuang beamed afterwards.
Kuang became the second-youngest player to make a cut on the PGA or European circuits, behind only Tianlang Guan, who was a month younger when earning Low Am honors at the 2013 Masters. Kuang fired 69 and 73 on the weekend to finish T-55.
Woods to receive Medal of Freedom on Monday
Tiger Woods will have a gold medal and blue ribbon to pair with the green jacket. The 43-year-old will be at the White House on Monday, where he will receive the Medal of Freedom from President Donald Trump.
President Trump tweeted that Woods—who won his 15th major, and first in a decade, at the Masters last month—is receiving the honor "because of his incredible Success & Comeback in Sports (Golf) and, more importantly, LIFE."
This ceremony comes at a time when athletes have passed on invitations to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. The Golden State Warriors have turned down multiple trips to the White House, as did the Virginia men's basketball team following its NCAA Championship. Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora announced on Sunday that he won't attend the club's D.C. visit in protest of Trump's lack of hurricane relief to Cora's native Puerto Rico. However, the Clemson football team and Baylor women’s basketball squad have made recent visits to meet President Trump.
The medal is America's highest honor for a civilian. Woods is just the fourth golfer to be chosen, following Arnold Palmer (2004), Jack Nicklaus (2005) and Charles Sifford (2014).
Trump is an avid golfer, owning a dozen-plus courses and playing over 170 rounds during his presidency. Trump played with Woods and Jack Nicklaus in February at Trump's golf club in Jupiter.
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