There’s Rory McIlroy, a four-time major winner.
As the Ulsterman is teeing it up on the first day, the announcer relays to the audience that it is his birthday. Cheers and applause followed by a rendition of the birthday song were presented to the 30-year-old.
Then there’s Max Homa, his playing partner for round three.
A former collegiate star. Professionally ranked 417th in the world. Missed 15 cuts of 17 events last year. Lost his PGA card twice in the last five years.
When Homa started the day, never would he thought that the cheers on the 18th green would end up be dedicated for him.
“Playing with Rory (I was thinking) – ‘Who the heck am I? it’s his (30th) birthday, he’s probably going to lap me’,” said the 28-year-old Californian. “I’m freaking out.”
On the final day, McIlroy ended up shooting 2-over-par to fall into T8 position, while Homa, who made five birdies and just one bogey for a 67 and completed his fairy-tale with a three-shot victory over Joel Dahmen at Quail Hollow – a total of 15-under-par for the week.
“I knew in the back of my mind that I make that putt, I win this golf tournament,” said Homa.
“I putted awesome this whole week, and I stood up on that putt and we had a great read, and it was great to see it go in because that’s kind of when I think I knew my golf game was good enough to do this.”
And truly, his flat stick, his life-saver, made the world of a difference for him this week.
Homa gained 2.472 strokes from putting this week. To put it into perspective, Dominic Bozzelli leads the tour with an average of 1.078, while Dustin Johnson is a little behind at 0.796.
After a brilliant amateur career that included winning the NCAA Championship in 2013 as a senior at Cal-Berkeley, where he beat Jon Rahm, coincidentally Dominic Bozzelli and Daniel Berger en route to his individual title.
He competed alongside Justin Thomas in the Walker Cup which saw an Americans victory over European players such as Matthew Fitzpatrick.
Homa and Thomas spent one year on the Web.com Tour together, and then Thomas’s career took off while his counterpart was left struggling to make cuts.
He failed to keep his card in his first two years on the PGA Tour and wondered if he would ever make it at the highest level.
“When I hit rock bottom I found a shovel and kept digging,” Homa said. “I went to some low, low places.”
“The feeling like I belonged was the worst part. Nobody knew who I was, no one cared.” he said during the post conference.
“I felt like I shouldn’t be playing practice rounds with people. I felt like I was on an island and it was, you know, borderline embarrassing.”
“It was embarrassing at times,” Homa said of his past struggles. “But it ain’t embarrassing anymore. It’s a cool story now.”
This is just the third week that Max Homa has been playing the new Titleist TS4 driver. He was among the first to put it into play when it was introduced to tour players at the Valero Texas Open.Leave a comment