Outside of one bad shot — which found its way into the spectators — Max Homa seemed to have everything working for him during the first round of the Open Championship.
No, Homa isn’t atop the leaderboard after day one, but he overcame difficult weather conditions and a near-impossible course to finish at three under, solidly placing him just two strokes off the lead.
Considering some of the shots and the scores from many of his peers, Homa was pleased with where he stands.
“Yeah, I was really happy with the way I played. I hit it awesome,” he said. “Only one mistake, and just did a really good job.
“Holed a couple good short ones, but didn’t have too much stress and just hit — that’s as good as I remember hitting it in a major. I felt like I had a lot of control of my golf ball, which was great in that wind.”
Ah, yes, about those majors.
As terrific as Homa has been this season — which includes two victories, eight top-10 finishes, and a current world ranking of No. 8 — traditionally speaking, his resume at majors has been lackluster.
Focusing on only the Open Championship, Homa’s two appearances have been a missed cut (2022) and a T40 (2021). For one of the best players on the planet, that’s a tough pill to swallow.
Looking bigger picture, in Homa’s 16 major starts, he’s missed nine cuts and finished no better than a tie for 13th (2022 PGA Championship). In the three majors this season, he’s gone T43 (Masters), T55 (PGA Championship) and a missed cut at the U.S. Open.
“Everybody knows my major record sucks,” he said candidly.
So what gives?
Like any human being, when the pressure intensifies, Homa admitted that he tries a little too hard, and that he cares just a little too much. The added stress doesn’t allow him to relax — but it’s something he’s working on during this Open Championship.
Hell, the 32-year-old even has a reminder written on his glove; although he won’t reveal the exact phrase since it’s not quite G-rated.
“It’s just kind of a mantra,” he said. “It has a bad word in it, so I won’t tell you what it is.
“It’s just something I started doing in Detroit [at the Rocket Mortgage Classic]. Just stop caring so much and let myself just be myself.”
But will the new approach actually lead to better results at a major this time around? Homa hopes so, and detailed how his first round at Royal Liverpool felt more like a regular Tour event — not a major with huge implications.
“It’s just one of those feels like I’m gripping the wheel real tight. I think I’m not myself when I play them [majors],” he said. “Then I go to regular Tour events and I feel like I free up and I play great. I’m a lot more consistent. Crazy things don’t seem to happen.
“Today felt more like that. I felt like I was playing golf on a hard golf course and just hitting good 5-irons and good 3-woods and just moving along.”
Currently T7 heading into day two, Homa hopes to build off a strong first round that saw him shoot a two-under 34 on the back nine. If he can channel that confidence and stay out of his own way, he may just find himself hoisting the Claret Jug come Sunday.
“Sometimes you just need a reminder that it’s going to be all right. Just go play golf.”