Max Homa, warming up for next week’s Presidents Cup, looks to be in form.
In his title defense at the Fortinet Championship, Homa is tied for the lead after Friday’s second round in Napa, Calif.
Homa shot a 5-under-par 67 at Silverado Resort and Spa’s North Course, leaving him a 12-under 132, level with England’s Danny Willett, who shot the best round of the day, an 8-under 64.
First-round leader Justin Lower (second-round 71) and South Korea’s Byeong Hun An (68) are tied for third at 10-under 134.
Taylor Moore (68), Matt Kuchar (68) and Sahith Theegala (69) share fifth place at 8-under 136. Ben Martin (68), Brian Stuard (69) and Robby Shelton (70) are tied for eighth at 7-under 137.
Homa rolled in a 15-foot eagle putt on the par-5 16th hole. He also had four birdies and one bogey. The 31-year-old could join Brendan Steele (2016-17) as the only players to win back-to-back titles at the Fortinet Championship.
Asked to compare his play to his title-winning performance from last year, Homa said, “A little different. I drove the ball unbelievable last year if I remember right. This year my mid irons have been really good, but it’s not too far off. My game honestly is — weird to say, but my game from last year all the way to now, from this event last year to now feels very similar, which is great.
“It’s just a testament to my coach, Mark Blackburn. It feels like I’m doing the same stuff, I’m just getting a little better at it, so it feels quite similar.”
Willett produced a bogey-free round, finishing both the front nine and the back nine with consecutive birdies. It was his lowest score on tour since his career-low, 10-under 62 in 2015 at the WGC-HSBC Champions.
“We’ve not hit it amazing, we’ve hit it really good and this place still kind of jumps up,” Willett said. “You know, the rough is hit and miss and with the greens being firm as they are, to go bogey-free is really good, kind of a sign of where we’re at in terms of playability and where things are.
“So the field game’s pretty sharp, the short game’s been pretty sharp. So yeah, no, a good two days’ work, but there’s still a lot of golf left.”
While Homa is the lone member of the United States’ Presidents Cup team playing this week, four members of the International Team were in the Napa field. Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama (second-round 72) and Canada’s Taylor Pendrith (70) are tied for 41st at 3 under. Canada’s Corey Conners (74) and Australia’s Cam Davis (74) both finished even par through two rounds, missing the 2-under cut line.