Some final rounds are better than others. Yesterday’s was the best we’ve seen in a long time.

Entertainment to the Max

Every year, we know Sunday at the Genesis Invitational (i.e., the L.A. Open, etc.) will be a treat, but this year’s final round at Riviera Country Club really delivered. After a long day that included the finishing holes of his third round, Max Homa beat Tony Finau on the second playoff hole. Genesis Invitational Results

Finau shot a brilliant 64 to seize the clubhouse lead but could only watch as Homa stuffed his approach to the 18th green. But when Homa missed the shortie and parked his tee next to a tree on the first playoff hole, Finau seemed to have the momentum on his side. From that point on, though, the playoff was the Max Homa Show. He saved par from up against the tree, hit an excellent shot into the par-3 14th, and beat Finau’s bogey. It was a rollercoaster—and by far the best Sunday on the PGA Tour of the year.

Aside from the majors, the Genesis is likely the tournament Max Homa has coveted the most. An L.A.-area native, he has spoken often about how much this event means to him. He was visibly gutted after missing that three-footer on the 72nd hole, and he exuded pure joy and relief in his post-round interview. The victory earns him a three-year exemption on the PGA Tour, a spot in next weekend’s WGC-Workday Championship, and a second trip to Augusta National. For the rest of us, it’s a feel-good story; for Max Homa, it’s a dream come true.

Always the bridesmaid

Starting the day four shots off the lead, Tony Finau had to go low to give himself a chance. He did just that, making eight birdies en route to a 64, the low round of the tournament. Perhaps unfairly, though, Finau is known less for what he does to get in position and more for how he seems to shrink from the big moment. On the first playoff hole, the famed 10th at Riviera, he hit a mediocre chip and missed a putt inside eight feet. The bogey on the next hole felt inevitable.

Tony Finau’s last four results are solo 4th, T-2, T-2, solo 2nd. This was his 38th—yes, 38th—top 10 since his lone PGA Tour victory in 2016. No doubt Homa played fantastic golf yesterday. But if Finau is ever going to get off the metaphorical schneid, he’ll have to go out and win a tournament instead of letting it come to him. We still expect him to win soon, but he’ll remember the 2021 Genesis Invitational as one that got away.

All’s well that ends well?

Sunday at Riviera was such a delight that it nearly made us forget that Saturday was sort of a fiasco.

In the morning, golf tragics couldn’t wait for the third round at the Genesis Invitational to start. The course had been crispy on Thursday and Friday, and the forecast for Saturday called for sunny skies and high winds. Real golf! But it wasn’t meant to be. With gusts reaching 35 mph around 10 a.m. local time, Keegan Bradly putted off the 10th green, and play was suspended soon after. When the tournament resumed four hours later, the weather had settled down significantly.

PGA Tour tournament director Steve Rintoul framed the decision to stop play in terms of player and volunteer safety. “We had a piece of communications equipment fall down very close to some players on the 14th tee,” he told Golf Channel’s Kira Dixon. But since PGA Tour officials were shown watering greens during the break, it’s hard to believe they weren’t also worried about more putts like Bradley’s.

No doubt many factors contributed to the stoppage on Saturday, but here’s a simple fact: Riviera’s greens weren’t designed to stimp at 12-and-a-half feet. The PGA Tour presents them that way in order to help the 94-year-old course hold up against today’s pros. But when a not-unusual L.A. wind kicks up, things spin out of control. Fifty years ago, the same wind probably would not have brought the tournament to a halt. Make of that what you will.

Quick Hooks

Hayden Buckley triumphed in the Korn Ferry Tour’s return at the LECOM Suncoast Classic. Leader Billy Kennerly played his last two holes in three over, leaving Buckley to face Taylor Montgomery in a playoff. Buckley rolled in a 12-footer for birdie, earning him his first KFT victory and boosting him to No. 27 on the points list. LECOM Suncoast Classic Results

Sam Burns held a five-shot lead at the Genesis Invitational heading into Saturday. That lead narrowed during the third round, but after the 24-year-old went out in 31 on Sunday, he seemed in complete control. But then he stumbled to a 38 on his final nine, falling one shot short of the playoff. Still, this was the third straight week that Burns has been in contention on the weekend, and the T-3 ties his career-best finish on the PGA Tour. Plus, we’ll remember his up-and-down on No. 6 on Saturday for quite some time.

Jordan Spieth was lurking around the top of the leaderboard once again this weekend. Spieth opened with back-to-back rounds of 68 on Thursday and Friday, birdied three of his first eight holes on Saturday, then came crashing back to earth. Still, a T-15 on a bad week? Progress.

CBS had all sorts of new camera angles at Riviera this week. Low, high, drone, crane—you name it. This one of Matthew Fitzpatrick’s approach into the 8th hole was particularly fun. Progress!

Appearing in an interview with Jim Nantz during Sunday’s telecast, Tiger Woods looked and sounded… well, bad. He isn’t making full swings after his recent back surgery and is unsure when he’ll tee it up again. Asked if he thought he’d be ready for the Masters, Tiger said, “God, I hope so. I’ve got to get there first.”

After Rudy Giuliani told a crude, creepy story about her on a podcast, Michelle Wie West responded in impressive fashion. Bravo, Michelle!

Dan Hixson, a golf architect who has done excellent work all over the Pacific Northwest, is finishing up a new course in Roseburg, Oregon, and if you enter this sweepstakes, you might get a chance to name it. May we suggest Coursey McCourseface?

Riviera is freaking awesome.

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Shotgun Start: Homa’s win at home, an “unplayable” delay, and Tiger loves angles

This Monday episode revels in the weekend that was at Riviera, which the Shotgun Start proclaims as the Tour’s real “gold standard.” Andy and Brendan lead off by discussing Max Homa’s emotional win and the kind of resonance that winning this event at this moment had for him. They speak to the history that Riviera has on Tour and the event has in that market to build that kind of resonance. Then they get to the hard-luck loser, Tony Finau, who played his ass off but looked underwhelming in the playoff. The debacle of a wind delay and setup that was suddenly over the edge is covered in detail, with competing arguments over who screwed up. Also, is this a sign the Tour is at least trying to create a challenge or will we now see a month of play on pillows in Florida? Tiger’s dour TV appearance is discussed and Andy celebrates the 15-time major winner’s insistence on playing for the proper angles. They close with news of Phil playing the Dump in the Box classic, Rory becoming the PAC Pres, and the new LPGA match play event. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify.

Pro Shop

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