Why Max Homa is easy to root for and why he’ll be back for his major moment

AUGUSTA, Ga. — This week was one of firsts for Max Homa at the 2024 Masters.

He played with Tiger Woods, one of his idols, in the first two rounds. After 36 holes he was paired with Bryson DeChambeau in the final group to tee off on Saturday. After 54 holes he found himself solo third behind a pair of major champions in tournament leader and world No. 1 Scottie Scheffler and Collin Morikawa.

In 17 previous major starts, Homa had missed nine cuts and earned just one top-20 finish. Sure, he has six PGA Tour wins in the last four years but being two shots off a major championship lead with 18 holes to play was more unfamiliar territory for the world No. 11. When asked how he’d handle the moment, Homa delivered a pair of perfect answers.

“I came here with the gratitude and appreciation that I get to do it. I’m happy I get to do it tomorrow,” he said Saturday evening. “I’m going to remind myself I’m a dog and I’m ready for this moment.”

“If I catch myself thinking about what could go wrong, I let myself dream about what could go right,” he added. “I don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow.”

2024 Masters

Max Homa looks at the scoreboard on the 15th green during the final round of the 2024 Masters Tournament. (Photo: Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports)

What happened was Scheffler pulled away down the stretch and shot a 4-under 68 to win while Homa stalled with a 1-over 73 to finish in a three-way tie for third seven shots back.

“Scottie is an amazing golfer. It’s really impressive. Obviously I was going to need to play some spectacular golf today, did not,” Homa said on Sunday evening. “But I thought I played some really good golf, so I’m proud of that, and it was a really fun weekend.”

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Homa praised Scheffler for his commitment, his mind and his ability to let things roll off his back and step up to very difficult golf shots and treat them like their own: “He’s obviously a tremendous talent, but I think that is his superpower.”

For Homa, his superpower is his vulnerability. Throughout his entire career, whether he was grinding his way back to the PGA Tour, winning on Tour or coming up flat in majors, the guy has consistently spoken his mind. He’s thoughtful in his responses. He’s naturally funny. He’s not afraid to let you inside his mind and heart. With a Tour full of fake tough guys and media-trained regurgitators of cliches, it’s a refreshing change of pace that makes him easy to root for.

“It’s bittersweet, I guess, because I feel accomplished but I feel like it doesn’t really mean anything in the grand scheme of things. But I just feel like I learned. I feel like I took a big leap,” he said reflecting on his first major top-five finish. “The rhetoric on me, and this is from myself, as well, is I have not performed in these things, and I performed for all four days. I didn’t throw a 65 in there and sneak my way in. I had to sleep on this every single day, this feeling and kind of this monkey on my back.”

2024 Masters

Max Homa chips onto the No. 7 green during the final round of the 2024 Masters Tournament. (Photo: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Network)

Hardly anyone opens up to a room full of complete strangers like that. How do you not root for a guy like that to have success? After a missed cut in his first appearance at Augusta National in the fall of 2020, Homa realized – with the help of his caddie, Joe Greiner, and wife, Lacey – that he was focusing too much on the physical aspect of golf, but not the mental side. Over the last four years he’s developed a mental game that’s as elite as his ballstriking and has transformed from the funny guy on social media roasting swings to the world-class player and person he always knew he could be. It shows each time he speaks into a microphone.

“I don’t feel like I need to prove anything else to myself. Obviously I would love to prove I can win, but I know I can play in these things well now. The last two majors I’ve played quite well,” he said of is T-3 this week and T-10 at last year’s Open Championship. “Obviously I need to prove that I can win one, but winning is fickle. I know the way I played today is good enough to win. If the putts don’t go, the putts don’t go. I actually think it’ll put me at ease a little bit for the majors to come.”

If there’s one thing we’ve learned about Homa on his journey through professional golf, it’s that he’ll be back for his major moment. And he’ll be ready.

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