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Tiger, Lefty, meet Max Homa

Pro golf: Valencia grad Homa will golf in PGA Tour event with best of best

Posted: January 22, 2014 10:44 p.m.
Updated: January 22, 2014 10:44 p.m.

Max Homa smiles as he holds his hole-in-one ball from the sixth hole on the second day of the Walker Cup golf tournament against the Britain and Ireland team at the National Golf Links of America on Sept. 8 in Southampton, N.Y.

 

This is technically Max Homa’s rookie season as a professional golfer.

But the Valencia High graduate is starting to feel more and more at home in big tournaments like this week’s PGA Tour event, the Farmers Insurance Open in La Jolla.

“I’m more comfortable than I think I was the first time (at a PGA Tour event), but it’s still a learning curve and it’s still kind of very exciting,” said Homa, who gained access to the event via a sponsor’s exemption.

This will mark his fourth career PGA Tour start. He played the U.S. Open as an amateur in June and missed the cut before later making his professional debut with back-to-back starts at the Frys.com Open and Shriners Open in October.

Homa, 23, made the cut in both of those tournaments and ended up tied for ninth at the Frys.com and tied for 30th at the Shriners.

But this week’s event, his first of 2014, packs a much bigger punch than the last two.

Of the players already committed to play in the tournament, 10 of them are ranked top 30 in the world. Among those in the field: No. 1 ranked Tiger Woods and No. 4 Phil Mickelson.

Woods won the event last year.

“Knowing that they’re going to be out there this week, it just makes it really exciting,” Homa said. “When people say it’s a full-field event, that just sounds exciting.”

The tournament will be played at the Torrey Pines North and South courses with each player alternating between the two courses throughout the four-round event.

The Torrey Pines South Course hosted the 2008 U.S. Open.

This will be Homa’s first time playing either course, which is why he arrived in the San Diego area on Saturday to prepare.

After his second practice round on Monday, he said he thinks the course sets up well for his strength off the tee and with his iron game.

But he also recognizes the challenge ahead.

“The greens are so hard and it’s really long and narrow so you need to hit your driver really well and the rough is absurdly long this week so being in the fairway is pretty important,” Homa said.

This will be the first of at least three PGA Tour tournaments Homa is already signed up for this year thanks to sponsor’s exemptions.

He will also play the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am in early February and the Puerto Rico Open in March.

He’s still trying to get an invite to the Northern Trust Open, which takes place in nearby Pacific Palisades from Feb. 13-16.

The focus this week is a few miles down the coast, at Torrey Pines.

“I think I just need to get off to a good start and forget how big the event is and just go out and play golf,” Homa said.

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