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College golf: Homa climbs the board

Valencia grad now tied for 37th, while his team is tied for eighth in NCAA championship

Posted: May 31, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: May 31, 2012 1:55 a.m.
 

One thing’s for sure, Max Homa has his putter working well for him.

Now if he could just get the rest of his clubs to catch up, the University of California, Berkeley junior could make some noise in the NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Championship.

Homa, a Valencia High graduate, shot a 1-under 70 on the second day of the tournament at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades.

That moves his overall score to 4-over and puts him in a tie for 37th place, nine strokes behind University of Illinois golfer Thomas Pieters, who is at 5-under.

For the second straight day at the NCAA final, Homa had trouble keeping his driver under control, but unlike Tuesday’s 5-over round, he was able to salvage a solid round with his short game.

“Hanging in there was an awesome feeling, really not letting myself get too negative and too down,” Homa said.

Homa teed off at 7:20 a.m. Wednesday, taking advantage of the calm winds in the morning and shooting a bogey-less 32 on the front 9.

He birdied holes 3, 6, 8 and 10 to start his day at 4-under through 10 holes. At that point in the round, he hadn’t missed a single putt, knocking down anything ranging from three to seven feet away.

But eventually, the difficulty of Riviera’s back 9 caught up to Homa, and three bogeys on his final eight holes.

“Given how hard it ended up playing in the second half of that round, I’m really not displeased in any way,” said the former All-Santa Clarita Valley Boys Golfer of the Year.

On day one of competition, just 12 of the 156 players at the event finished with rounds under par. On Wednesday, Homa was one of another 12 players to break par.

He began the day tied for 98th and shot up the leaderboard as the afternoon groups filtered in.

Today marks the final round of the stroke play portion of the championship.

From there, the top eight teams will move on to match play beginning Friday.

California is tied for eighth, but is just 12 strokes behind first-place Alabama.

“We’ve put together rounds all year when we needed them and we’re obviously going to do it again (today),” said Homa, the most experienced of the Cal players. “I don’t need to tell these guys much. They’re confident in their abilities.”

This is Homa’s third straight shot at an NCAA title after Cal failed to make the final eight in each of the past two NCAA Championships.

It will all come down to this afternoon, when Homa tees off at 1:20 p.m.

“It’s going to take a big one, but I’m feeling pretty good and I think I can (play well),” Homa said.

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