PGA Tour Inc.

05/03/2021 | News release | Distributed by Public on 05/04/2021 08:10

Max Homa discusses mental approach

Homa returns to Wells Fargo this week ranked 16th in the FedExCup and 39th in the world ranking. The win at Riviera was another victory at a major-championship venue. He's also playing the most consistent golf of his career.

He's finished in the top 25 in more than half his starts this season, including a sixth-place finish at last week's Valspar Championship.

He missed the cut in each of his three previous Valspar starts and had a 74.2 scoring average on the Copperhead Course, so last week's showing was further proof of his progress. He now rolls his eyes at what used to intimidate him.

'When I come to a course like this one,' he said, 'and I have a hole that used to bug me, I'm like, 'What were you bothered by?' It's almost like now it feels easy.'

The key moments in Homa's improvement took place away from the spotlight. In a hotel gym after the U.S. Open. In a hitting bay in Birmingham, Alabama, far from Homa's West Coast home. And at a rental house in Augusta, Georgia, after missing the cut in his Masters debut.

Homa has said he struggled with impostor syndrome. The struggle to believe he belonged alongside the best players in the world was one of the reasons his swing went awry. He emulated aspects of other players' swings and the tinkering sent him in circles.

After missing the cut at Winged Foot, he wanted to find out what worked for him. He met with a new instructor, Mark Blackburn, in the tiny gym of the Westchester Marriott for a physical evaluation.

Homa was trying to get his hands high at the top of the backswing, a la Justin Thomas, but Blackburn's analysis showed that wasn't a good move for Homa's body. A few weeks later, Homa traveled to Birmingham for long, uninterrupted practice sessions that often stretched past sunset with temperatures in the 50s.

Blackburn appreciated his student's desire to understand the reasons behind the changes instead of simply following directions. It showed Homa's inquisitive side.

'He asks good questions,' Blackburn said. 'Some guys don't care. They say, 'Just show me.' He needs to know the why.'

When they returned to Blackburn's home after hours of hitting balls, Homa played Super Smash Bros. with Blackburn's 11-year-old son, Rex, and was on the floor playing telephone with Blackburn's 5-year-old daughter, Nila.

Homa is learning to extend that same gentleness and grace to himself. That was the topic of conversation with his wife, Lacey, and longtime caddie/friend, Joe Greiner, after last fall's Masters.

Homa's hard work led to high expectations for himself. They thought working on his mental game would help him handle the game's inherent frustrations.

'I've always been determined, but I've never been super positive,' he told Golf Digest in 2019. 'The negativity was corrosive.'

Dahmen saw it last summer at the Workday Charity Open, the first of two consecutive events at Muirfield Village Golf Club. He, Homa and Mark Hubbard rented a house for the fortnight in Columbus, Ohio. None of them made the cut. Dahmen, who shot 79-81, laughed it off, as did Hubbard. Homa did not.

'For the next day, you could tell he was still pissed off he didn't have a tee time on Saturday,' Dahmen said. 'He didn't let it go very easily.'

John Homa is a successful acting coach in Los Angeles, having worked with the likes of Kirsten Dunst and Brie Larson. He understands the importance of words, which is why he told his son to listen closely to his favorite golfers' interviews.

'He taught me to pay attention because he realized you learn a lot from those things,' Max said. 'I've always appreciated those moments where I could talk about what I've gone through.'