Masters 2024: Dear journal: Max Homa expressing thoughts and impressing Tiger

Masters 2024: Dear journal: Max Homa expressing thoughts and impressing Tiger
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AUGUSTA, Ga. – Sometime last year, Max Homa endeavored to be more intentional with his journaling.

His circuitous path from hotshot amateur to struggling pro to the game’s top tier has been gratifying, but now, at age 33, he can be excused for wanting more. More wins. More weeks in major contention. Homa has won five times on Tour since the beginning of 2020, and yet that has translated into just two major top-30s in 15 tries over that span.

And so, Thursday at the Masters, Homa jotted down a note in his journal:

However good I am is however good I am.

To Homa, that means that he doesn’t need to try to be better than he already is. To remember that he’s immensely talented; his week-to-week excellence on Tour is proof of that. So just accept whatever comes next.

That hasn’t been easy for Homa, especially this year, when he hasn’t performed to his capabilities. He knows he can be his harshest critic and beat himself down with negative self-talk. He knows his tendency is to try and find the answer in the dirt, to chase perfection, and that isn’t always fruitful.

“I know what I put into this game,” he said, “and trying to get every ounce back doesn’t really work.”

But in his journal, at least, he can be more forgiving. On tournament days, to stay grounded, he’ll scribble things he’s grateful for. Or he’ll add mental goals for the day. Or he’ll write little inspirational sayings, like his reminder to himself on Thursday that his good is plenty good enough.

“It’s one thing to think it,” he said. “But when you write it down, it becomes a bit more tangible.”

There should be plenty of writing fodder from his first two rounds at Augusta National, where he played alongside his boyhood idol, Tiger Woods. Homa rode shotgun for what will most likely be Woods’ final competitive trip around St. Andrews in summer 2022. And this week, he had a front-row seat to Woods’ historic made cut at the Masters, his 24th in a row, a new tournament record.

Woods made his 24th consecutive cut at the Masters Tournament.

When he surged into the lead Friday, Homa thought to himself that his task was actually made easier playing with Woods, not harder. No one was there to see him; Woods was the star attraction. A few years ago, the prospect of such a premier grouping would have overwhelmed him. But here, Homa just wanted to play his game – map out a plan with caddie Joe Greiner, stick to it and then accept the result.

“It’s easy just to stay in your own world and not get on your high horse at all,” Homa said. “It kind of keeps you within yourself. … Just being patient and disciplined is a testament to the mental goals I’ve set for myself.”

Even with 35-mph gusts turning Augusta National into a torture chamber, even with the usual circus surrounding Woods, Homa signed for rounds of 67-71, putting him into a share of the lead – by far his best halfway position in a major.

The person most impressed?

It may have been Woods.

“He’s got all the talent in the world,” he said. “His ball flight, as solid as he hits it, it’s just a matter of time before he starts winning in bunches. I saw it up front; he doesn’t really mis-hit shots. That’s something you just have to do around this golf course.”

The challenge for Homa, of course, is maintaining this mental discipline through the weekend, to not revert to old habits.

This is how he wants to play golf – to go through his process, to commit to his shot and then, once it begins its flight, he may as well close his eyes. He’s done his job; whatever happens next, it’s not really up to him.

“I’d like to see if I can continue that this weekend,” he said.

Homa should have no shortage of support, and not just from the patrons who adore the self-deprecating social-media star-turned-primetime player. He has a wife who won’t let him gloat. A young son who wants a diaper change. Close friends who simply want to hear about Woods’ flighted irons or wide array of chips and pitches around America’s most famous course.

“The memories from today, they will just be a lot of the Tiger stuff,” he said. “But I hope to build my own come this weekend.”

The memories, the takeaways, the goals – they’ll all be in his journal. He was asked what he expects to scribble down over the next 24 hours.

It’ll be the usual: Five or six things he’s grateful for. Family and friends, sure, but opportunity too – and what could be a better opportunity than to prove himself in the final group Saturday at the Masters.

“A lot of it is just going to be that detachment from the result,” he said. “Just try to do the best I can, and that might be great, and it might not be. But I’m just going to be OK with that.”

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