Homa’s heartfelt interview, a LIV mistake and Tiger’s sweet gesture | Rogers Report
Keyur Khamar, Cliff Hawkins, Jamie Squire
Hello friends and Happy Honda Classic week, or as I’ve been calling it, The Return. I was on the road for two full weeks at the WM Phoenix Open and Genesis Invitational, and as great as both tournaments were, I am thrilled to be back home with the opportunity to catch up on some sleep. The last two weeks were so much fun. I got to know new players and caddies, made some new friends in the media center and ate a lot of great food. More on that later. Let’s get to it.
Max Homa wearing his heart on his sleeve
Max Homa didn’t get it done on Sunday at the Genesis Invitational, but if I had the ability to crown a winner at Riviera, it would’ve been the six-time PGA Tour winner solely due to his spectacular interview.
Homa is as emotionally intelligent as he is funny — and he’s very funny. He speaks so eloquently on the spot. It’d take me five drafts of writing and two editors to get the same message across. What a gifted guy.
And props to Homa for sticking around SoCal for another day to host the inaugural TTC Max Homa Invitational.
I’ve never come close to experiencing how it must feel to put on a smile the day after a crushing defeat, but I respect the hell out of Homa for it. I think the closest I’ve come to his mindset on Monday was performing in my high school talent show the morning after getting rejected from the college I wanted to attend. That one stung.
A famous Tiger fan
Next up we have Josh Allen, who you might know as the quarterback for the Bills, but I know as just another Tiger fan. Allen arrived early on Sunday to watch Woods tee off, and stuck around the media area well after his round ended for the chance to talk (just like the rest of us media members).
I probably got a little too close to Woods and Allen during this interaction, but I did it for you, my loyal Rogers Report readers.
Their interaction was brief, but they did throw out the idea of teeing it up together. I’d be into that. I hear there’s ample time on the schedule for The Match XXV.
A LIV mistake
Before I get into the drama that engulfed LIV’s visual department Monday, I want to make it abundantly clear that graphic design is not my greatest talent. I’ve got a splendid coworker, Darren Riehl, who is spectacular at it. But LIV’s graphic was shared to Twitter, which is a cesspool of overanalyzed minutiae, so I’m allowing myself to do the same here. Let’s take a look, shall we?
Before we get into Mickelson’s partly-amputated thumb, we must discuss James Piot, who apparently changed his dominant hand in time for the 2023 season.
In the spirit of transparency, I must admit I wasn’t sure if Piot was a lefty before I saw this post. But like any good journalist, I cross-referenced Piot’s Instagram page. He is not a southpaw in real life. He is one in the graphic.
Perhaps his image was flipped so all the players could fit into the graphic? But if the image was flipped, the logos on Piot’s socks and shoes would’ve been backward. So whoever edited this photo must’ve fixed the backward Nike and FootJoy logos and then called it a day? I’m really confused by this, folks.
Okay, on to Phil. The poor guy’s right thumb has been cut off near the putter. Fortunately for golf tournament attendees worldwide, it seems his real-life thumb is just fine. Who is Lefty without his signature thumbs-up, anyway?
Thankfully, the graphic was fixed and reposted after a few dozen (or hundred) people brought attention to the mistakes.
So, without any further interruption, the Rogers Report is happy to present you with the FINAL image of the 2023 Hy Flyers, featuring a right-handed James Piot.
Unfortunately, part of Mickelson’s thumb is still missing.
Niall Horan at the Genesis
I’m guessing most of my readers were pretty excited to see Josh Allen following Tiger. That’s fair! But I hope none of you will be surprised to hear I was more excited to see Niall Horan on site. He was following Tyrrell Hatton, who just happened to be playing with Tiger. This was very good news for me, because it meant I got to follow the 15-time major champ while walking alongside Horan inside the ropes.
Before I got out there, though, my pal and Golf Digest staff writer Chris Powers was first on Horan-watch. Powers, I owe you my life for this one.
I want to especially thank Powers for capturing the awesome moment photographed below. Imagine a golfer breaking your phone, only to stick his pal who happens to be an extremely famous musician on the job of getting your contact info? I kinda wish I’d gotten hit with that drive.
I joined Powers to follow Niall for the last few holes, where I was reminded of my favorite golf secret: you can get away with talking to a celebrity at a golf tournament by talking about golf and only golf.
Last July, I bonded with Nick Jonas by asking him about his PXG equipment. Much as I was dying to ask him about his role in Camp Rock while professing my love for the song Year 3000, I stuck to golf. And he was much more willing to speak with me because of it. I think.
Same thing with Niall at the Genesis! I wanted to tell him that I cried tears of happiness as a preteen at his concert at Gillette Stadium, but instead I asked him if he’d ever been to Riviera before.
For the next few minutes, we chatted about how cool it was to have an inside-the-ropes badge and how much fun he was having watching the action unfold in front of his eyes instead of on television.
On this point, I think a PGA Tour event is a pretty safe space for someone like Niall Horan or Nick Jonas. Most of the fans are slightly less knowledgeable about 2010s boy bands than yours truly, and all of them are focused more on the golf than the other people walking inside the ropes. Horan flew under the radar, so much so that there isn’t a single image of him on Getty from over the weekend. Bummer!
Some really good food
I’d like to take a moment to personally thank Jim “Bones” Mackay. Not for his contribution to the sport as a caddie or commentator, but for his contribution to my overall happiness during Genesis week.
Sometimes (read: often) when I’m on the road for events, I don’t venture out to new restaurants. After working long days, I’m usually just looking to get back to our team AirBnB as quickly as possible. Bones changed all that this week when he gave my colleague Sean Zak and I two recommendations so great, I consider it my civic duty to hand them off to all of you.
First up was Caffé Delfini in Santa Monica. This little Italian spot was perfect. I had the gnocchi the first night we went there, and then we ordered takeout from the place two more times last week. I’ve been on a BIG penne vodka kick of late, and Caffé Delfini had the best I’ve ever had. We also went to Capo in Santa Monica, per Bones’ recommendation, where I enjoyed the best burrata and bruschetta of my life. Bones, I owe you my life!
It wouldn’t be a proper Rogers Report if I didn’t speak at least a little about ice cream. My coworkers and I headed to Sweet Rose Creamery in Santa Monica and it was incredible. I got cookies and cream with rainbow sprinkles and waffle cone chips, pictured on the bottom left.
Tiger’s sweet gesture
Nine-year-old Madelyn Quinn has been through a lot, but she had a memorable day on Saturday at Riviera when she achieved No. 2 on her bucket list: meet Tiger Woods.
What a special moment. Not only did Tiger check off Madelyn’s goal on her sign, he handed her an autographed glove and gave her a high-five before heading to the next tee.
Moments like these are why I love golf! I’m so happy for Madelyn!