Max Homa found himself in a position that's become familiar for him over the last several years. He led the Nedbank Golf Challenge by one shot going into the final round. And just like he normally does, Homa closed it out with a 66 on Sunday to finish at 19 under, winning by four over fellow Ryder Cupper Nicolai Hojgaard at Gary Player Country Club in South Africa.
Homa started strong on Sunday with four birdies in his first six holes and went out in 31, by far his best score on the front nine all week. He closed with a conservative 35 that included this long birdie putt at the 16th that more or less finished off the tournament.
"It's kind of what you dream of," he said, per the AP. "You want to be in the fight, and it was just fun to kind of close it out at the end. It was one of those weeks the ball wanted to go in when it needed to go in."
Homa has six wins on the PGA Tour -- all since 2019 -- but Sunday marked his first victory on the European Tour. It is part of a long stretch of great golf that dates back to this summer's Scottish Open. Homa has has now finished among the top 12 in seven consecutive tournaments.
If you want to take it back even further: Since the beginning of 2021, only Jon Rahm, Viktor Hovland (eight), Rory McIlroy and Cam Smith (seven) have more worldwide wins than Homa's six in that stretch. Scottie Scheffler also has six victories in that time.
Perhaps the most impressive part about Homa's winning ways? He almost always closes out tournaments where he's close going into the final day. Sunday was the ninth time since 2019 that he has entered the final round of a PGA Tour or European Tour event inside the top three. He's won in six (!) of those instances.
Homa came in as the favorite and left as the champion. It was not a strong field, but it did include other Ryder Cup stars, including Hojgaard, Tommy Fleetwood and Justin Thomas, who finished fourth at 12 under, seven back of Homa's winning score.
Homa and Thomas made the trip to Africa a bit early to go on a safari and see some of the sights.
"It's just been tremendous to get to travel to a new place, meet so amazing people," Homa told the AP. "The fans have been amazing; everyone has been so welcoming and kind. To be granted the opportunity to even be here, I was truly grateful for, but to come out with a trophy is just cherry on top."
Whether you believe Homa is an emerging star probably depends on how you view his lack of success in major championships. This summer's Open marked his first-ever top 10 finish at a major, which is a disappointment given how good he's been elsewhere.
What's undeniable about Homa, though, is that he's a winner. He's proven that over and again. In September at the Ryder Cup, where he won 3.5 points for the U.S. team and at places like Quail Hollow, Riviera and Napa. You can add South Africa to the list as one of the best closers in recent memory did so once again.