Last updated on November 12th, 2023 at 04:47 PM
Max Homa capped off a memorable African adventure by securing his first international title at the Nedbank Golf Challenge.
The American posted a closing six under par round of 66 to claim a four-stroke victory on 19 under par at ‘Africa’s Major’ and taste victory outside the United States for the first time, with fellow Ryder Cup player Nicolai Højgaard his closest challenger on 15 under.
Homa, making his debut at Gary Player Country Club, began what he described as a life-changing trip last week as he was joined by two-time Major winner Justin Thomas and their wives on safari in South Africa, before travelling to Sun City for a week which has ultimately ended in success.
The 32-year-old was three under through six holes of the final round before a stunning eagle at the par-five ninth sent the Sun City crowds into raptures.
After finding the rough to the right of the fairway, Homa hit a crisp three iron 240 yards to 18 feet before rolling in the putt to make the turn in 31.
The six-time PGA TOUR winner dropped his second shot of the day – and only third of the week – at the par four 11th before back-to-back birdies at the 15th and 16th opened the advantage and allowed him to enjoy the walk to victory down the final two holes.
Homa becomes the fifth American winner of ‘Africa’s Major’ and first for 17 years since Jim Furyk’s second triumph in Sun City in 2006.
Max Homa: “It’s been a dream ten or 11 days. It was a crazy day, I got off to such a great start and Thorbjørn was just playing unbelievably and kept pushing us along. Nicolai was playing phenomenal golf so it was fun. It’s what you dream of, you want to be in the fight and it was fun to close it out at the end.
“It’s been tremendous to get to travel to a new place, meet so many amazing people, the fans have been amazing, everyone’s been so welcoming and kind, my wife Lacey, ‘hi Lacey, hi Cam’, she was here for a few days and we absolutely loved it. To be granted the opportunity to even be here, I was truly grateful for but to come out with a trophy is just the cherry on top.
“It’s special. It’s been a special week. I really believe even if I came up short today, this is one of the more memorable weeks I’ve ever had. The safari last week with JT and Jill and my wife Lacey, I just don’t know how to put it into words so to come out the next week and put the cherry on top was special. All the vibes were good this week.
“I just can’t really get over that I can come across the world, around people I’ve never met and be this kind and welcoming. It was all week, but especially walking onto 18 was extra special and I just have to give so much credit to this country and the quality of people. I’m amazed and very thankful.
“I’ve always wanted to do this but we’ve never had the opportunity. It’s always difficult to finish the season on the PGA TOUR, get a week or two off, start our season back up and then fly all the way over here and then come back and play again.
To have an off season, I’ve been licking my chops at the opportunity, just for the experience. I’ve wanted to play here, I’ve wanted to play in Spain, I’ve wanted to play the BMW, I’ve wanted to play in Australia, I’ve wanted to experience what this game has to offer and to have the opportunity to get an invite to play here, I was very grateful for that. Everything about it, win, lose or draw, I was going to appreciate this experience.”
Højgaard’s solo second place means he jumps 24 places on the Race to Dubai Rankings in partnership with Rolex to tenth, meaning he is currently projected to secure one of the ten PGA TOUR cards on offer to players not otherwise exempt.
Denmark’s Thorbjørn Olesen, who for long spells kept pace with Homa before a double bogey at the 17th ended his chances of glory, finished third on 14 under to climb one spot to sixth on the Race to Dubai, while American Thomas finished his week in style with a six-under 66 to finish fourth on 12 under.
Englishman Dan Bradbury rounded out the top five on 11 under to safely secure passage to next week’s season-ending DP World Tour Championship, where the top 50 available players on the Race to Dubai will tee it up.
With results in South Africa, Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy has been confirmed as the winner of the 2023 Race to Dubai Rankings in partnership with Rolex.
The four-time Major winner, who has two Rolex Series titles in 2023 with triumphs at the Hero Dubai Desert Classic and the Genesis Scottish Open, has an unassailable lead at the top of the Rankings with one event to go and will be crowned Europe’s Number One for the fifth time in Dubai next week.