Things are going to become emotional here, so let’s start light. You know, with Thanos. He’s the Avengers bad guy, if you’re not familiar.
To set this up, know that Jon Rahm has been the destroyer of golf worlds of late, and he crushed Max Homa’s on Sunday, but Homa never, ever misses an opportunity to showcase his dead-panny wit. With that, here’s your comedic story beginning, which happened minutes after Sunday’s Genesis Invitational final round.
Reporter to Homa: “Jon obviously elevates himself at this point above kind of the rest of the world. Does it feel like he’s above the rest of the world? Does he feel inevitable?”
“Is that like an Avengers quote?”
Reporter to Homa, laughing: “No, not at all.”
“Yes, he’s probably Thanos. He has a lot of the stones in his toolbox. He’s a tremendous golfer; he has zero weaknesses. He’s been this dude for a long time. I think he’s got the highest win percentage in the last X amount of years; he’s got the highest top-10s by a mile. The guy’s incredible. I think Rory, Jon and Scottie are kind of in a league of their own at times, and it’s just our job to go catch them.
“But yeah, I look forward to trying my hand at this again.”
Homa slowed down on those last 12 words, though not in a lethargic, on-to-the-next-question, cliche-like way, but purposefully, as if to imply that if someone — anyone! — was willing to turn on the lights over Riviera, he damn sure was ready to go back out. Sunday, yes, was very deep.
Of course, Homa nearly got it done in real time. He’s been pretty good, too, lately. Last September, he was the Presidents Cup king. Last month, he won the Farmers Insurance Open, at no less Rahm’s personal playground, Torrey Pines, where the Spaniard won a U.S. Open. Recently, HE’S BEEN ON THE COVER OF GOLF MAGAZINE, which, we can all agree, is amazing. Homa’s a star now, which, for a player who not so long ago won $18,000 for a season, sometimes still seems wild to think about.
And Sunday, after climbing out of a three-shot hole to Rahm to start the day, he was leading on 13 tee. And he was doing it at home. The Genesis is in L.A., and that’s Homa’s backyard. and though he won it two years ago, the victory came in front of a fan-less Riviera due to Covid, so yes, the happenings on Sunday were lovely for him.
Then Homa’s tee ball hit a tree.
And he bogeyed 13.
And he made no more birdies.
And Rahm Rahm’ed. Dude dropped a 45-footer for a circle on 14. And he dropped an iron shot on the par-3 16th to 3 feet for another birdie. And he’s your winner. Homa, somehow, is not.
If you haven’t already figured it out, Sunday meant something more, and it hit hard. Sports can do that. And they just had to ask him about it all.
But sincerity is refreshing, and you should also know that if there’s something that Homa does better than hit crispy irons, it’s be sincere. So here we go. Grab a tissue.
Reporter to Homa: “More proud of the fight or disappointed with the loss?”
Homa paused. He looked off to his left.
“Yes.” He paused. He took a deep breath.
“Sorry. I’m very proud. I did not have it off the tee today, but man, I fought.”
“I really just wanted to push him.”
He started to choke up a little.
“I don’t know why this is happening now, I’ve been fine for 15 minutes. I wanted to push him. He is a spectacular golfer. I would say other than Tiger and I don’t even know, he’s the most consistent player I’ve seen. I’ve known him since college, and he’s been like this since then, No. 1 amateur in the world, No. 1 player in the world, all the accolades. I wanted to make him beat me and I think I did that. I let him off the hook on 13, but man, it was cool to see myself push him and not feel like I had 100 percent of my game.”
Homa paused again.
“I played great everywhere but off the tee on that back nine, but it is what it is. I was going to have to put up a pretty remarkable score. I think it’s pretty amazing going against someone like Jon. You know he’s going to play well so it’s almost comforting knowing you’re just going to have to play better; he’s not going to fold. So I am — I’m not disappointed in my golf, I’m just disappointed in the ending.”
Reporter to Homa. “How do you describe the environment between a series of two-shot swings, a loud crowd, a lot of them backing you. How do you describe what that environment was like, especially on the final few holes?”
“Yeah, it’s for me. I wish they’d be a bit nicer to Jon. It wasn’t exactly — I like cheering; I’m not a huge fan of booing unless it’s at Waste Management. But it’s amazing how the support — it hurts me not to — when I won in ’21, nobody was here and it hurts me not to be able to do that with everyone here, my family and friends.”
Homa paused again. He exhaled.
“But I tried, man.”
He started to tear up.
“Sorry, this tournament just means a lot to me. It’s like an emotional release. But yeah, the support I get here is so cool.”
He choked up.
“I’m going to win it again and be able to do it in front of all these people.”
“Yeah, that’s that.”
Then they asked him about “inevitable.”