Presidents Cup: Max Homa goes clutch putts, celebrates fist pumps like he’s never done before

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CHARLOTTE – Max Homa chased US Presidents Cup Captain Davis Love III for most of the year he wanted to be on his team. On Friday, he fulfilled his captaincy’s pick by scoring two clutch putts to secure a 1-up victory with fellow rookie Billy Horschel in their four-ball game against Canadian duo Corey Conners and Taylor Pendrith.

Homa, who captured his fifth PGA Tour title last week at the Fortinet Championship in Napa, California, was asked to compare winning a team match to winning an individual title and he didn’t hesitate to give his answer.

“A hundred times better,” he said. “This is the top of the top for me.”

Making this team was a dream come true for Homa, something he considered “unthinkable” five years ago when his career hit rock bottom. He estimates that he has hit about a million golf balls since then, and in addition to the bloated balance in his bank account, he pointed out that the American team became a symbol of his success.

Presidents Cup: quarter-finals on Saturday morning

“You can enjoy quantifying it and you can say, damn it, like I made this,” he said last week.

Still, he came to Quail Hollow this week with something to prove. He has heard the haters and doubters on social media wondering if he would have been selected for the team if Dustin Johnson and other LIV defectors weren’t unfit for the team. It only serves as fuel.

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Homa got wet feet in Thursday’s foursome and earned a run alongside Tony Finau for Team USA. He understood exactly how Billy Horschel felt when he made his debut in an atmosphere he had never experienced before.

“There are so many people, you can feel them on your neck,” Homa said.

The US built a 2-up lead over the top nine despite Homa being ruled out of birdies. He contributed his first on the par-5 12e hole, but the Canadians did not go down without a fight. The match was tied on the 17e hole when Pendrith’s 19 foot birdie wears out horse hat. The door was open for Homa to win the hole and he poured in his ten-foot putt and pumped his fist with joy. Just days earlier, during his pre-match press conference, he had said: “I don’t know if I’ll ever have the swag and the cool factor to run around the green and punch punches like Tiger. I think about it and never do it and just wave.”

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But there he pumped his fist, lost in the moment and the euphoria of playing for his country and 40,000 fans cheering him on, not to mention his 11 teammates.

“I feel very grateful. I’m not super, super close to anyone on this team, but I’ve always respected everyone and got along with everyone, and it was great to see these 11 other guys who are unbelievably good, unbelievably praised, so many achievements, encourage us to do it trajectory,’ said Homa. “I’ve been in the last game both days and to be able to see that is special to me.”

Team USA heading for the 18e hole clung to a 1-up lead, but Pendrith buried a birdie putt from 3 feet and it looked like the international team would save a tie and a half point. Homa watched a 10-foot birdie putt to try to answer and claim a full point for his team. He said he felt the weight of trying to win the game for his teammates, but this was also what all those hours on the practice green had been for. The putt fell and Homa clenched his fists again.

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Later, when asked about his celebration, he said, “I don’t think I said I don’t do fist pumps. That could be Cam Young. One time JT almost punched me in the face with an uppercut fist pump. So he showed me how to do it. Yes, I think you may have thought of Cam Young. I think he just grins when something good happens.”

But there was no doubt that it was a side of Homa that golf fans had never seen before. That’s the power of these biannual team competitions, where a gold cup and not piles of green paper is the currency of the day.

The crowd erupted into a frenzy. Horschel rushed to hug him and the rest of his teammates were not far behind. The American lead grew to 8-2.

“I mean, I was nervous about that putt, but it was fun,” Homa said. “I told my wife that when we talk about things that money can’t buy, money can’t buy that feeling. And that was something I’ll remember forever, and I’ll tell anyone who ever wants to hear about it what that felt like.”

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek

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