NAPA, Calif. – Earlier this year, Max Homa was asked during an interview if he could be anyone for a day, who would he be?
Homa answered Davis Love III, U.S. Presidents Cup Captain.
“So I could pick myself for the team,” he said.
Last week, Love phoned Homa and told him that he was one of his six captain’s picks to represent Team USA at next week’s Presidents Cup at Quail Hollow in Charlotte, North Carolina.
“I’ve known since the start of the year Max had a passion for playing on this team,” Love said.
Homa, who won twice last season and finished fifth in the FedEx Cup, seemed to be a slam-dunk pick, but that didn’t decrease how meaningful hearing Love’s confirmation meant to him.
“The opportunity to represent my country as a part of the Presidents Cup is tremendous, but the thing that’s been lingering in my brain since that phone call is I set out a goal at the end of last year and I said I’m making this Presidents Cup team,” Homa said. “I would not trade my attempt at my goal for anything. Like that’s what matters to like my soul and to fulfill that like promise to myself that I was making this fricking team meant a lot to me.”
Before Homa sports the red, white and blue, he is back to defend his title at the Fortinet Championship at Silverado Resort’s North Course, the kickoff event to the 2022-23 PGA Tour season. He made his first pro start at this event when it used to be played in Arizona, finishing tied for ninth in 2013. For Homa, a former NCAA men’s individual champion, the sky seemed the limit but first he plummeted to No. 959 in the world at the end of 2017, a forgettable season when he earned $18,008 on the Tour, made just two cuts and played one Sunday.
“I used to say when I hit rock bottom I found a shovel and kept digging,” Homa said.
Max Homa holds the Championship Trophy after winning the Wells Fargo Championship golf tournament. Mandatory Credit: Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports
Homa, who banked more than $5 million in official money last season and has climbed to No. 20 in the world, has a tattoo with the word relentless on his forearm.
“Every single golfer has to go through mental hurdles that could derail their career,” said NBC golf analyst Notah Begay III. “When you come through the other side, it lends itself to a deeper appreciation of your abilities. He has an elevated confidence in his game because he survived the rough waters. You can see through his interaction with the media and his social media presence that he’s got a deep sense of appreciation.”
Asked what advice he’d now give to his younger self in 2013, Homa said, “Keep going.”
“I remember sitting in the hotel room (during the lean years) and I wanted somebody to come down from the heavens and just say this is how good you are, like a number,” Homa said during his pre-tournament interview. “Tell me I’m 22 in the world if that’s what it is, or is it 1,000. I didn’t really care, I just wanted to know what that number was and I committed to myself that I’m just going to see where I can get to. I’m going to make sure that there will be no stone unturned, and I will figure out how good I am.”
Homa became glassy-eyed as he continued: “The ‘keep going’ thing is just important because it’s like there’s that picture, I don’t know, if it’s a meme or whatever, but it’s a picture of a guy picking with an axe and he’s just like hammering it, he’s digging for diamonds and gold or whatever and he gets to where there’s like one more hit and he would have got to it and he turns around and leaves. It’s like you might as well just keep going. Failure is in quitting.
“That’s something I think I’ve had, but it would have been even more useful to tell myself in 2013 like if you just keep digging it, you’ll be quite happy in the end.”
Homa, 31, hasn’t reached the end of his journey; he plans to just keep going.