Rory McIlroy slips out of contention at Quail Hollow
Seamus Power is in eighth place through 15 holes as play is suspended due to heavy rain
Rory McIlroy during the final round of the 2019 Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow. Photograph: Getty Images
Not one of the usual suspects, not this time: Max Homa, a 28-year-old American breathing rarefied air for the first time, kept his composure and displayed superb shot-making in the heat of battle to claim a breakthrough PGA Tour title in winning the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow.
Among those left in Homa’s wake was Rory McIlroy, who floundered in a stretch around the turn. Just two days into his 30th year, the Northern Irishman’s travails from the seventh to the 10th undid any hope he had to landing a third Wells Fargo title and, ultimately, McIlroy’s final round 73 for 277, seven-under-par, was only sufficient to earn a share of eighth place.
McIlroy had started his round with a series of high-fives to those spectators lined along the ropes as he made his way to the first tee. But McIlroy, a winner of the tournament in 2010 and 2015, never got going when the serious business of playing got under way and the stretch of holes from the seventh to the 10th proved especially costly.
The most harmful act came on the Par 5 10th, one of the easier holes on the course: having driven into the trees left, McIlroy played a superb recovery for his ball to finish in a hollow just short of the green. But his pitching deserted him, and he took three attempts to find the green in running up a double bogey seven.
For Séamus Power, the Par 4 18th hole again proved his Achilles heel. The Waterford man was poised for a third successive top-10 finish on tour - following his finishes at the Heritage and Zurich Classics - but double bogeyed the finishing hole, closing with a 72 for 278, six-under-par, in tied-13th. However, he did improve his FedEx Cup standings, moving from 117th to 101st.
Homa, a two-time winner on the web.com tour but whose best previous finish on the PGA Tour was a tied-10th at the Pebble Beach pro-am in January, remained calm - undeterred by a one hour weather delay halfway through his back nine - to fire a final round 67 for 15-under-par 269, three strokes clear of runner-up Joe Dahmen with Justin Rose a shot further back in third.
“Like I’m in a dream,” said Homa, ranked 417th in the world going into the tournament, of his win. “I’ve been working my tail off . . . . it feels like everything. Everything is good now.”