LA QUINTA, Calif. – Max Homa has one word tattooed on his right arm – “Relentless.” It’s been his mantra for golf as well as life.
“That word just always like rang true in my head,” he said.
As early as his college days, he tried to live up to its meaning, telling his teammates, “you have to be a bulldog, you just got to be tough.”
Little did he know that he would experience some of the lowest of lows professionally, most notably in 2017 when he made just two cuts in 17 starts on the PGA Tour and earned $18,008. (He knows the amount to the dollar.) It was following that season of failure that he got his ink.
“I had to remind myself that when I brush my teeth with my right hand I see it every morning in the mirror,” he said.
Homa’s relentless pursuit to become the best golfer he can be earned him a return trip to the Tour and he proved he belonged by winning the 2019 Wells Fargo Championship. On Sunday, he will seek further validation, heading into the final round of the American Express with a share of the 54-hole lead after shooting 7-under 65 at PGA West’s Stadium Course.
Homa, a 30-year-old Southern California native, has been bullish on his game since shooting a pair of 65s on the weekend at the Mayakoba Golf Classic in December to finish T-12. On an unseasonably cool, overcast day that included sporadic raindrops in the desert, Homa proved he’s more than just a social media darling, pouring in nine birdies and didn’t let a double bogey slow him down. In a word, he was relentless.
Through three rounds, he’s made a tournament-best 24 birdies, which he attributed to being dialed in with his wedges and short irons. But perhaps his best hole of the day was scrambling for par from 109 yards after he mishit his tee shot just 241 yards into a bunker. Homa layed up and dropped a lob wedge 10 feet from the hole.
“He just had to get it on the green and I knew he was going to make it,” said Homa’s caddie Joe Greiner.
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That he did. Homa sank 112 feet of putts in the third round and ranks second this week in Strokes Gained: putting, which comes as no surprise to Homa.
“I think I’m a great putter. I kind of realized that around PGA Championship last year,” he said.
Homa strung together four birdies in a row beginning at the second hole and birdied three straight starting at No. 14 to grab his share of the 54-hole lead with Si Woo Kim and Tony Finau. Oozing with confidence in his swing and his putting stroke, Homa spent much of his off-season working on improving his mental approach to the game. That includes giving himself positive affirmation.
“When I wake up, when I’m nervous, on a certain tee shot, where I feel like I might be getting antsy I just say three things I’m grateful for,” he explained. “It kind of calms me down.”
Homa guessed that during Saturday’s riveting 65, he took time to express his gratitude six or seven times.
“It’s just a good way to stay happy,” he said. “Golf is my life, but I don’t want it to consume me. I want to win, I want to be the best player in the world at some point one day, I want to be the best me I can be and all that kind of comes with being a happy dude. So I’m just trying to be a happy dude, I guess.”
Homa might be even happier with his position heading into Sunday’s final round if not for two sloppy holes: he tripled the 10th hole on Friday and made double at No. 7 on Saturday. He knows he could be running away with the tournament, but then again he understands that Pete Dye’s Stadium Course has its way of striking back.
“I guess I’ve already gotten some of the bite out of the way, so I like my chances,” he said.
No matter what, he’ll be relentless in his pursuit of victory.
original article link https://golfweek.usatoday.com/2021/01/23/max-homa-tattoo-right-arm-mantra-relentless/