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Hart grad Gore, Valencia grad Homa look for spot on PGA Tour

Posted: July 21, 2014 7:07 p.m.
Updated: July 21, 2014 7:07 p.m.

Valencia graduate Max Homa works on the driving range at the Northern Trust Open pro-am at Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles.

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This season has been a learning experience for two local golfers.

For 23-year-old Valencia graduate Max Homa, he’s figuring out how to live life on the road and on his own in his first professional season.

As for 40-year-old Hart alumnus Jason Gore, he’s just figuring out how to play winning golf again.

Both have enjoyed strong years on the Web.com Tour, which is one step below golf’s major circuit, the PGA Tour.

With a little more than a month to go in the Web.com’s regular season, Homa is ranked 12th on the tour money list and Gore is close behind at 18th.

As long as they remain in the top 25 by the start of the tour’s playoffs on Aug. 28, both will automatically earn their PGA Tour cards for 2015.

Gore will be going for his first full-time PGA Tour exemption since 2009, and Homa is looking for his first Tour card.

“It is very exiting just because I know what it’s like out there (on the PGA Tour),” Homa said. “I know that’s really where I want to be and that’s where I want to progress. ... I want to be able to achieve and succeed on the big-boy tour and prove myself out there.”

Homa got a taste of PGA Tour life earlier this season when he cashed in a string of sponsor’s exemptions and wound up playing in eight PGA events. He made four cuts and finished as high as a ninth-place tie at the Frys.com Open in October.

But once those exemptions ran out in April, his focus shifted to climbing the ranks on the lower tour.

His biggest moment of the year came on May 18, when he won the BMW Charity Pro-Am in South Carolina for his first career victory as a pro.

His winning share of $117,000 jumped him from 64th on the money list to fifth overnight.

That was one of his two top 10 and one of his five top 25 finishes on the Web.com Tour this year.

“It’s been really good,” said Homa, who is coming off a stellar four-year career playing for University of California, Berkeley. “I wouldn’t say surprising but very pleasing. First year out and a win is obviously a pretty big bonus. I’ve been pretty pleased.”

The toughest adjustment for Homa has been the non-stop traveling, he said, which is much more rigorous now compared to what it was in college.

“It’s a lot of cars, hotels and houses that aren’t my own,” Homa said, adding that it’s been about three months since he’s been home in Valencia.

On the other hand, it’s been a year of redemption for Gore, who contemplated retirement at different points during the last two frustrating seasons.

He applied for the head golf coaching job at his alma mater, Pepperdine University, in 2012. But Gore says he spent a lot of last year retooling his swing and made an equipment change.

Most of all, though, he’s trying to have fun.

“I’m just happy to be out here,” Gore said in an interview with PGATour.com. “I don’t know if I’m playing better golf because I’m enjoying it or enjoying it because I’m playing better. I don’t really care.”

Though Gore doesn’t have a win under his belt yet this season, he’s often been in contention.

He already has three top 10 Web.com finishes on the year, including a second-place finish at the Panama Claro Championship in March and he came in third place at the El Bosque Mexico Championship in April.

That’s after putting up a combined two top 10 marks in 2012 and 2013.

“I’ve been playing pretty well again,” Gore told PGATour.com. “I’m just starting to believe I’m a good golfer again, and I feel like there are some good things to come.”

Even if both golfers earn their PGA cards, they’ll still both enter the Web.com playoffs, which consists of four tournaments beginning with the Hotel Fitness Championship in late August and concluding with the Web.com Tour Championship in September.

The playoffs help determine the priority list for future PGA Tour members. Higher priority players will be eligible to enter more tournaments throughout the year.

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