CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Long-shot Max Homa held his nerve during an hour-long rain delay before closing out an emphatic three-stroke victory at the Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte, North Carolina on Sunday, May 5.
Homa belied his world ranking of 417 by proving remarkably steady under pressure as he shot a 4-under-par 67 at Quail Hollow to clinch his first victory on the PGA Tour in his 69th career start.
Hitting a trusty fade with his driver and putting with remarkable precision in a display that suggested he will be no one-hit wonder, the 28-year-old Californian finished at 15-under 269.
He capped off the week in style by sinking a 10-foot putt at the last as two ducks waddled nearby on the fringe of the green, oblivious to Homa's life-changing moment.
"(I am) over the moon, man," Homa, the 2013 American collegiate individual champion, said in a greenside interview after punching his ticket for the year's second major, the PGA Championship starting on Thursday at Bethpage in New York.
"It means a lot to me to do this under pressure and job security's great. I haven't had that before. I had some serious scar tissue."
The victory secured Homa a two-year exemption on the PGA Tour and will lift him to the brink of the top 100 when the world rankings are updated on Monday.
Fellow American Joel Dahmen, who started the day tied for the lead with Homa and Jason Dufner, shot 70 to claim second place on 12-under.
Englishman Justin Rose (68) was another shot back in third.
Dahmen, who was also seeking his first tour victory, and Rose kept Homa honest, but the champion was not to be denied.
"I didn't beat myself today," said Dahmen, who could hardly have been happier for the winner and was looking forward to a big night on the town.
"He's a good friend of mine and I think we're going to celebrate tonight."
World No. 2 Rose, in his first start after missing the cut at the Masters, battled his long game but nonetheless eked out a strong result.
Spaniard Sergio Garcia also vaulted into contention by going 5-under over a five-hole stretch around the turn, but he had left himself with too much ground to make up.
With two late bogeys, he shot 68 and tied for fourth with Dufner, Rickie Fowler and Paul Casey at 9-under.
Two-times Quail Hollow champion Rory McIlroy's expected charge never got off the launch pad.
The Northern Irishman three-putted the par-5 seventh hole for par, botched a pitch at the easy par-4 eighth, and then went bogey, double-bogey at the next two.
A 73 left him in eighth, a distant eight strokes off the pace, hardly a confidence-boosting tune-up for the PGA Championship, where he will seek to end his five-year major drought.