‘I felt free today’: Pressure off, Homa (62) goes low in Round 2

‘I felt free today’: Pressure off, Homa (62) goes low in Round 2
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It might be hard to believe, but Max Homa is making his Tour Championship debut this week, almost a decade after turning pro and eight years after securing his first PGA Tour card in 2014.

The 30-year-old started his East Lake premiere with a bogey at the 1st on Thursday, following it up with three more and finishing with a 1-over 71.

Friday was a completely different story.

On the tail end of what he called the best year of his career, Homa did a complete 180 in Round 2, going 5 under on the front nine before adding another birdie and an eagle on the par-5 18th to end his day with an 8-under 62 and 9 under overall – good enough for T-7.

Full-field scores from Tour Championship

“I felt free today, and I trusted that I’m good at golf,” Homa said after the round. “Sometimes I don’t do that.”

After a “month or two” of putting “way too much pressure” on himself and finishing Day 1 T-26, the California native asked himself a question: Why are you putting so much pressure on yourself?

“Golf will test your brain,” Homa said. “I felt like I deserved to play well, and I wasn’t even letting myself in the first place.”

To go from a 71 to a 62, literally overnight, might seem like the result of some top-notch therapy, but Homa did three better: he talked to his wife, Lacey, then his caddie, and finally his coach.

Like Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Homa asked for advice from each of them, and they all delivered it in different ways: caddie Joe Greiner was “harsh” and gave it to him straight, coach Mark Blackburn was the easiest – his “biggest cheerleader” – and “the most in tune” of them all, Lacey, said it with a loving tone.

That advice seemed to be more of the same, just reassuring Homa with every conversation.

“I think I know what I do,” Homa said about his negative habit. “I just needed advice on how to not do it.”

While Homa puts the pressure on himself, it stems from everything about the game he plays. With every step forward, he feels the added weight. You think you’ll get to the next level, and everything will be perfect. But in the case of Homa, and many pro athletes, you get there, and you just want to do even better.

“Mark asked me Monday if getting to the Tour Championship lived up to the feel, and I said, no, not at all. Wins do. Wins always do,” Homa said.

There’s still a lot of ground to make up on the weekend if Homa wants to put any pressure on Scheffler and the other guys in the top 5, but Friday was a new day with a fresh outlook. He’s focusing on playing good golf while also being realistic; he knows he’ll need more than just a couple low rounds to win.

Even if it doesn’t feel like it, this is just the beginning for Homa at East Lake, and he’s settling in for the long haul with a renewed mindset.

“I just (feel) lighter and free and just more ready to show off, less worried about what (is) going to go wrong,” Homa said. “And I’m just going to try and keep that as best I possibly can.”

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