Hope springs Max Homa to new heights at Torrey
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California native earns sixth TOUR title at Farmers Insurance Open
Written by Kevin Prise @PGATOURKevin
Max Homa overcomes five-shot deficit to win sixth title at Farmers
LA JOLLA, Calif. – Much has been made of Max Homa’s remarkable ascent into golf’s elite. The career arc boggles the mind on the surface. The secret might lie in one word.
“I hope that I haven’t seen my best day yet, my favorite day yet,” Homa said after winning his sixth PGA TOUR title Saturday at the Farmers Insurance Open, his fourth in his home state of California. “I’m sure there will be many other great, great days. Today feels like the best day ever. I hope that tomorrow feels better.
“You’re just hopeful. I think all of us kind of have that. You just hope for the best and stay the course.”
Homa carded a final-round, 6-under 66 at Torrey Pines’ South Course, at a tournament he attended as a high schooler in southern California, to rally from five back and win the Farmers Insurance Open by two strokes over Keegan Bradley. Homa moves to No. 2 on the FedExCup and will crack the top 15 in the world for the first time in his career.
This is the same person who lost his PGA TOUR card twice as a young pro, who played a full season in 2017 without a top-70 finish, who needed four straight closing birdies in the final round of the 2018 Korn Ferry Tour Regular Season finale to keep his job. The constant through all the variables: hope.
Homa’s career arc could be a book, and he’s only 32. He connects with reporters through his willingness to engage with on- and offbeat lines of questioning, always offering fresh insight. He connects with fans through his unfiltered insights on social media. He cares about the entertainment value of the product and backs up his words with actions; he participated in an on-course interview with the CBS broadcast team during Friday’s third round at Torrey Pines, utilizing Bluetooth technology.
“If I was the best golfer in the world, and nobody watched me,” Homa said this week, “I’d just be a guy at the bar telling everybody I was the best golfer in the world.”
With four wins in his last 29 TOUR starts, he’s winning at a proficient clip. He now joins Rory McIlroy, Patrick Cantlay, Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas as players with six or more TOUR wins since May 2019.
That hypothetical of being the best golfer in the world? There’s no reason to keep it merely a hypothetical.
“He is the hardest worker,” said Homa’s wife Lacey, on-site at Torrey with their 2-month-old son Cam Andrew. “I think if you continue to just work as hard as he is, you just kind of forget about that stuff (the struggles). He did have some scar tissue for a while, but he has replaced those memories with so many good ones.
“I think that’s just innate. I think that’s just who he is. There are so many times that I look at him and am like, ‘You do the same thing every day, and you go to the golf course every day,’ and obviously he’s doing different things every time, but I mean, it can be 100-something in Arizona, or it can be raining, and he gets out there like … he’ll take a two-day break, and I can just tell, it’s hard for him to not work at it.”
A few months after his self-described “demoralizing” 2017 season, Homa returned to the Korn Ferry Tour. During the season’s third event in Panama – five years ago this week – he was asked an offbeat question for a Groundhog Day video. If he could pick one day to relive over and over, which day would he choose?
He noted the final day at the 2013 Walker Cup, as part of a winning Team USA at National Golf Links of America. Then, as he so often does, he went deeper.
“I’m hoping I’ll get a few more answers for that,” Homa said at the time, “in the future.”
Since then, all he has done is live out his childhood dreams. He earned his first TOUR title at the 2019 Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow, outdueling Rory McIlroy among others on the weekend. He won the 2021 Genesis Invitational, hosted by his golf hero Tiger Woods, in his native Los Angeles. He has gone back-to-back at the last two Fortinet Championships in the Napa Valley, and he added a second Wells Fargo title in 2022. He went 4-0-0 in his Presidents Cup debut for the U.S. Team last fall – also at Quail Hollow.
Whether it’s the storybook success, or the preceding struggles, that one word remains constant: hope. It’s evergreen. Perhaps it’s Homa’s fundamental strength.
“I think I have a great perspective towards my love for this game,” Homa said. “I've seen kind of all of it. I remind myself most days too when I'm getting nervous coming down the stretch or things are getting wobbly, like today 12, or 13, 14, 15. 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 think that it's calming.
“I think everybody out here's got their own chip, everyone out here's got their own story, everyone out here has their own struggles. They look a little bit different. We all handle it how we handle it. But yeah, I can only tell you what's going on in my head, and that's how I've kind of tried to use it.”
As for the 2013 Walker Cup, that was when Max and Lacey first started chatting online, Lacey said as her husband posed for trophy photos on a serene Saturday evening amidst a Pacific Ocean backdrop.
“Then we came home, and now we’ve got a baby,” Lacey quipped. “Ten years later. A lot is happening, a ton more memories, and just add this one to the list.”
And Homa hopes for a future memory with said baby, at a TBD time at a TBD golf course.
“I'll say that maybe I'll be looking forward to the first time my son thinks he's going to beat me and I drop a putt on 18 to beat him and show him what's up,” Homa said. “That will probably be a day I'm looking forward to.”
Maybe Homa will ascend to world No. 1. Maybe he’ll be the guy in the bar. Maybe he’ll be both.
“I’m OK with him being the guy in the bar,” Lacey said with a smile.
Hope defies context, after all.
Kevin Prise is an associate editor for PGATOUR.COM. He is on a lifelong quest to break 80 on a course that exceeds 6,000 yards and to see the Buffalo Bills win a Super Bowl. Follow Kevin Prise on Twitter.