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College golf: Homa’s first day trials

Valencia grad is tied for 98th place at NCAA Championship

Posted: May 30, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: May 30, 2012 1:55 a.m.

Riviera Country Club made it difficult on most of the 156-player field of the NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Championship on Tuesday.

Among the course’s many victims was Valencia High graduate and University of California, Berkeley golfer Max Homa.

The Cal junior started with a bogey and a double bogey on two of his first three holes in the opening round of the tournament on his way to a 5-over 76 at the par-71 course in Pacific Palisades.

As an individual, Homa is tied for 98th place through 18 holes of the 54-hole stroke play portion of the event.

“(My round) was a especially bad,” Homa said. “I played pretty terrible. I think I hit one fairway and maybe five greens, so basically I had to scramble on every single hole.”

At the end of stroke play on Thursday, the top eight teams out of 30 competing will move on to phase two of the tournament, which is a three-day match play tournament.

Given Tuesday’s results, Homa and his team have some ground to make up in the next two days, as Cal came in tied for 15th in the team standings with a score of 295.

It’s 10 strokes behind leader Alabama at 285.

This all despite the fact that the Golden Bears came into the tournament as the No. 3 seed.

“There’s 36 holes left,” said Homa, who turned in the fourth-best score of five Cal players. “Ten strokes as far as a team event goes is really like three or four for individual, so it’s not that big of a deal.”

Homa himself is nine strokes off the day one leader Anton Arboleda, the UCLA sophomore who carded a 4-under 67.

Arboleda was one of just 12 players in the field to finish with rounds under par.

Playing in an NCAA Championship for the third year in a row, Homa teed off in the afternoon and began on the back 9, where he ran into trouble right off the bat.

A strong drive on No. 10 found an unfortunate lie, leading to a bogey to start the day. Then, it was a birdie on the par-5 11th followed by a wayward tee shot on 12 to set up his lone double bogey on the day.

From there, Homa continued to struggle with the driver, but he made enough putts to limit the damage through the first 10 holes, where he sat at 1-over.

Things came apart when he rattled off four straight bogeys on holes 2 through 5.

“You’re not going to make a ton of birdies,” Homa said of Riviera. “But you can get around here well enough without making a ton of bogeys.”

Today, Homa will tee off at 7:20 a.m. as one of the first groups out, which could work to his advantage given Riviera’s reputation for high winds in the later hours of the day.

It should provide scoring opportunities on the front nine, but the task ahead is still a difficult one.

“I’m not that far off,” Homa said. “If I just have something like 4, 5, 6-under par (today), I’ll obviously get myself back into it for Thursday.”



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