Max Homa is in his happy place.
The Burbank, California, native attended the Los Angeles Open growing up. He dreamed of playing in the event. When his status as a top-notch amateur blossomed, it wasn’t tough to envision him winning the L.A. Open someday. Homa had competitive reps at Riviera in his time as an All-American at Cal.
It took some time after he turned pro to develop his winning ways. The late bloomer missed his first two cuts at Riviera. Since 2019, he’s gone 5-for-5 playing the weekend with a T-5th (72-69-65-70) in 2020, a win (66-70-70-66) in 2021, T-10th (66-70-67-71) in 2022, and solo second (66-70-67-71) in 2023.
“I think I have a game that fits difficult golf courses and I finally started to build a mind that fits difficult golf courses,” Homa was transcribed by Tee Scripts in 2021. “So I come here where I know it very well, I feel very comfortable. I think it's the best golf course in the world.”
Homa nearly blew his chance at glory in 2021 when he missed a 3-footer to win in regulation. Fortunately, he hung on in a playoff against a player who’s also been snake-bitten before, Tony Finau.
Last year, Homa was outdueled by two by Jon Rahm in an entertaining display of golf on Sunday. Homa doesn’t get rattled on poa annua greens like some do. He thrives on them. Homa was first in the field in Strokes Gained: Putting (11.329).
Homa also led the field with 23 birdies and picked the right week to be mediocre in driving accuracy. Riviera is a course where it’s virtually impossible to lose a golf ball.
His precision off the tee still isn’t where he’d like it to be thus far in 2024, but Homa has the course management and talent to overcome it.
Homa has developed into one of the more consistent players in the world. He’s posted elite performances on the PGA Tour for half a decade now. Homa over the last few years is stringing those performances together at a much higher rate.
That’s what makes his missed cut last week at the WM Phoenix Open so surprising. It was his first on any tour since June.
Last week was a disjointed, cold, rainy, and drunk (the crowds at least) mess through much of the tournament. It was Homa’s second week playing in abysmal conditions as Pebble Beach was shortened to 54 holes. He took T-66th there in the no-cut event.
Not to say he doesn’t have what it takes to be a mudder, but I think a return to more normal conditions at a comfy venue is the antidote to get Homa back on track.