Max Homa got off to an impressive -2 start on Thursday. Getting out of the blocks quickly in majors has been a struggle for the budding star, but today he got the opening round he needed for a chance to contend. Homa’s round was a masterclass in planning. Where it made sense, he pushed his tee shot up with driver, and in other situations he approached the course with caution to avoid big numbers. I was most impressed by the ways he played the 8th and the 12th.
The par-5 8th features a fairway that banks hard from left to right. The most severe bank is the furthest from the tee. The farther up you attempt to push your tee ball on this hole, the more likely the ball will find the right rough because of the slope. So, Homa opted for a 3-wood, and then got to hit his second shot from the flat ridge in the fairway. His playing partner, Scheffler, opted to push the ball up; he hit a perfect drive that landed on the left edge of the fairway but bounded down into the right rough. From there, he struggled to make par while Homa was able to make a birdie.
The other play that stood out to me was on the par-4 12th, where Homa made one of his two bogeys on the day. Despite the dropped shot, Homa’s thought process really stood out. Off the tee, Homa found the devastating left rough. From that position, most players attempted to hit the green and found the front bunker. From there, getting up and down is a tall task. So, instead, Homa decided to chip out in front of the right bunker. This wise play allowed him to play his third from an ideal angle to the tucked left pin. After a good pitch, Homa had a great chance to save par.
Watching round one closely, it’s clear that Homa is extraordinarily comfortable at LACC. He understands that the keys to success on this course are finding the fairway and hitting smart recovery shots. If he drives it a little better than he did today, Homa will surely find himself in the mix on the weekend.
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