The Max Homa story keeps getting better.
It was charming when Homa won the 2019 Wells Fargo Championship, completing a professional resurrection from the kind of dark place that has crushed innumerable careers, digging his way out with hard work, steel-toed perseverance and a pilot light that never went out.
“I’m tough,” Homa said that Sunday after beating his buddy Joel Dahmen. “I don’t know about my golf all the time, but I’m tough.”
Two years earlier, Homa had missed 15 cuts in 17 PGA Tour starts, been relegated to the Korn Ferry Tour and, if he was known at all outside his close circle of friends and family, it was for his social-media observations.
Homa’s is still a charming story, with a twinkle-in-the-eye perspective as smile-inducing and thought-provoking as ever. He is in a different place now, and not just because he and his wife, Lacey, became first-time parents late last year.
His victory Saturday in the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines landed like a reaffirmation of his new orbit within the game. Homa, at age 32, has six tour wins, is No. 13 in the world and is the genuine article.
“Everybody else calls me the social-media guy. I still think I’m a pretty darn good golfer,” Homa said after holding off Collin Morikawa, Jon Rahm and Sam Ryder at Torrey Pines.
“Obviously results helped me kind of build that foundation. I do like to say dumb things and make dumb jokes and observe weird stuff and tweet about it like a kid, I guess. But when I work, when I practice, when I play tournaments – this is what I love.”
Homa has won at major venues Torrey Pines, Riviera and Quail Hollow. He went 4-0 in the Presidents Cup last September, including a 1-up victory over Tom Kim in the Sunday singles. He has played his way into the nucleus of American professional golf.
There are still substantial hills to climb. He has played 12 major championships as a professional, and his T13 at the 2022 PGA Championship is his only finish inside the top 40, with seven missed cuts.
As much as anyone, Homa understands that each player runs his own race. He was the 2013 NCAA individual champion as a senior at Cal-Berkeley, but he didn’t arrive on the PGA Tour throwing sparks like Jordan Spieth. Homa had two false starts on the tour but never surrendered.
It’s hard to trust a process when the process isn’t working, but Homa always trusted himself. It may have been hard to do at times, but he found a way to get where he finds himself today.
“I just kind of always remind myself, ‘You’ve seen the darkness of this game. Enjoy this. Enjoy the beauty of it.’ People chanting my name, things I could never have imagined.” – Max Homa
When Lacey asked him Friday night at Torrey Pines if he wanted to talk about the final round, Homa said it wasn’t necessary. He knew what to do and how to do it. The results may not always come, but knowing how to get to the finish line is a learned skill.
“I didn’t play the greatest round of golf in the world, but I did everything that I wanted to do and put myself in a position to win a golf tournament,” Homa said.
Some players never get comfortable in that position. Homa is starting to look at home there.
“I’ve seen kind of all of it,” he said. “I remind myself most days, too, when I’m getting nervous coming down the stretch or things are getting wobbly … I just kind of always remind myself, ‘You’ve seen the darkness of this game. Enjoy this. Enjoy the beauty of it.’ People chanting my name, things I could never have imagined.
“I remember when I won my first golf tournament on the PGA Tour, the Wells Fargo in ’19, I was going to play golf with Rory McIlroy on Saturday, and I just told myself he’s never seen what I’ve seen. He does not know the same kind of pressure I know, I guess. I could be making this up, but either way it helped me beat him.”
It’s the nature of golf that there is a never-ending dance between darkness and light. It’s the old saying that when you’re playing well, you think you may never lose it, and when you’re playing poorly, it’s hard to imagine ever playing well again.
Homa is living proof that chasing the light is the way to go.
“There’s some grumpy people, but if you’re playing golf, you’d better be an eternal optimist,” he said.
“You’re just hopeful. I hope that I haven’t seen my best day yet, my favorite day yet. I’m sure there will be many other great, great days. Today feels like the best day ever. I’m hoping that tomorrow feels better.
“I’ll say that maybe I’ll be looking forward to the first time my son (Cam, born October 30) thinks he’s going to beat me, and I drop a putt on 18 to beat him and show him what’s up. That will probably be a day I’m looking forward to. But I guess it’s just hope. I think all of us kind of have that. You just hope for the best and stay the course.”
Max Homa offers a contented grin Sunday after winning the Farmers Insurance Open. Photo: Brian Rothmuller, Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
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