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It's Groundhog Day for Max Homa, who shares clubhouse lead at Valspar Championship


PALM HARBOR, Fla. – For Max Homa, every day on the golf course is starting to feel like Groundhog Day. On Friday, he followed up a 5-under 66 with a 3-under 68 for a share of the clubhouse lead with Lucas Glover at 8-under 134.

“Game feels like it’s very repeatable at the moment,” Homa said. “You go around a course like this without feeling too much anxiety, too much stress, that’s a bonus.”

His 3-wood has been dialed in, too. On Monday, Homa made his first albatross, holing his second shot at a par 5 with his trusty 3-wood at Greystone Golf Club in Birmingham, Alabama. On Friday, he nearly did it again, drilling old reliable to 4 feet, 9 inches from the hole and settling for eagle.

“She’s hot,” Homa said. “I’ve always hit my 3-wood quite well, it’s typically one of my favorite clubs. I know every caddie that’s ever worked for me has said it’s their favorite club, which means it probably should be my favorite club. So, I don’t know, it’s just a hitting it out of the middle and it’s going where I’m looking at the moment.”

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His putter hasn’t been too shabby, either. Homa made just over 200 feet of putts on Thursday and followed that up by holing a 27-foot birdie at No. 17 and a 30-foot birdie at No. 4. For the week, Homa ranks second in Strokes Gained: Putting.

“For a moment there I thought I was going to go super low but at the same time, that’s where this course will get you,” he said. “It’s hard to go around this place unscathed.”

Homa hasn’t forgotten when Groundhog Day felt like an endless string of missed cuts. In 2017, he missed 15 of 17 cuts, but he’s come out the other side, knowing what rock bottom on the PGA Tour feels like and appreciating the successes he’d had. How does he explain missing his three previous cuts in Tampa, yet making it look easy this week?

“I’m just better at golf now,” he said. “I told my wife that there’s a few tee shots out here I remember being anxious over and I showed up this week on Wednesday and was rolling my eyes that I thought that that was as demanding as it was.”

He added: “This is the longest I’ve played really well since like college. It’s a comfort to show up to events.”

Glover would like to have a few more repeatable rounds like Friday. He signed for a bogey-free 6-under 65, during which he lead the field in Strokes Gained: Around the Green.

“Scrappy, I think, would be a good word,” he said in trying to describe his round. “I usually hit a lot of greens. You got to do that here, you got to get it in the fairway and just hit it on the green, because it’s not easy to get it too close, you short side yourself a few times, this and that, but ball striking’s always been a strength and that’s key around here, but my short game’s bailed me out the first two days.”

Glover has never been one to fret – his word – about his ballstriking, and he’s confident it will turn around this weekend. World No. 1 Dustin Johnson was unhappy with his iron game after the first round, which included a 12-hole stretch without a birdie, so he headed straight to the range last night.

“Mid to long irons I don’t think I hit one in the middle of the club face,” Johnson said of Thursday’s opening round. “So, a little frustrated, but today I felt like I swung it a lot better.”

He bounced back with a 3-under 68 to secure a weekend date at Innisbrook Resort.

“If I can go out and play a nice round tomorrow, I can get right back in the golf tournament,” he said.

Among those lurking just a stroke behind the leaders at 7 under included Charl Schwartzel  and Tom Lewis, who each matched Glover with 65s, and Sungjae Im and Zach Johnson.

The low 65 and ties will play the weekend at the Copperhead Course.

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