Genesis Scottish Open

The Renaissance Club

DP World Tour

Max Homa closes out surprise victory in South Africa that left Rory McIlroy a winner, too. Here's why

November 12, 2023

Warren Little

Max Homa would likely have described his time in South Africa as a success regardless of his finish at the Nedbank Golf Challenge. The opportunity to compete in a different part of the world was one the 32-year-old Californian couldn’t pass up, turning it into a family trip by arriving early with his wife Lacey and taking in a safari excursion with fellow PGA Tour pro Justin Thomas and his wife, Jill.

But with a 19-under 269 total at Gary Player Country Club in Sun City, capped by a closing six-under 66, Homa is taking home a trophy and a €961,124.05 first-place prize money payout from his working vacation. Homa won his first DP World Tour title (to go with six PGA Tour victories) by defeating Nicolai Hojgaard by four shots (and a hard-charging Thomas, who finished fourth but seven shots back).

“It’s just been tremendous to get to travel to a new place, meet so many amazing people,” said Homa, the fifth American to win the tournament (along with Jim Furyk twice, Johnny Miller, Raymond Floyd and Corey Pavin) but the first since it became a DP World Tour event. “The fans have been amazing. Everyone has been so welcoming and kind.”

Never mind that Homa hadn’t played competitively since the final day of the Ryder Cup on Oct. 1, or in a stroke-play event since the Fortinet Championship in mid-September. And forget the fact that Homa still hadn’t found his comfort zone with the 10-hour time change until a few days into the tournament. His game was spot on, playing bogey-free golf through his first 39 holes and making just three all week.

Suffice it to say, Homa’s putter came in handy at clutch moments. Like here at the 16th hole on Sunday. Homa, who opened the day with a one-stroke lead over Matthieu Pavon, was clinging to the two-shot margin, now of Hojgaard and Thorbjorn Olesen, as he faced this 38-foot birdie opportunity on the par-3 16th hole.

“It was one of those weeks, the ball wanted to go in when it needed to,” Homa said.

And it was also one of those weeks where good breaks came at the right time too, like with this drive on the par-5 14th hole.

“To be granted the opportunity to even be here, I was truly grateful for," Homa said, "but to come out with a trophy is just cherry on top.”

As it turned out, Homa wasn’t the only “big winner” after the end of the Nedbank. So, too, was Rory McIlroy, despite the fact the Northern Irishman wasn’t even in the field.

McIlroy began the penultimate event on the 2023 DP World Tour schedule in first place in the tour’s Race to Dubai points list and was assured to remain No. 1 afterward regardless of the outcome. Yet by virtue of Homa’s victory, coupled with the performance of the rest of the field, McIlroy will arrive at the upcoming DP World Tour Championship having clinched the season-long title for the fifth time in his career no matter the outcome during the coming week in Dubai. McIlroy has 5,164.47 points while Jon Rahm, sitting in second, has 3,081.94. The winner earns 2,000 points.

McIlroy previously had been the winner of the Order of Merit in 2012, 2014, 2015 and 2022. Only two golfers have won the title more often: Colin Montgomerie having claimed it eight times and Seve Ballesteros six.