Max Homa’s improved form fueled by mental tactics that ‘opened my eyes’
GETTY - Orlando Ramirez / Stringer
Max Homa has a new coach in his corner: a sports psychologist.
After the 32-year-old (and recent GOLF Magazine cover star) picked up his sixth-career PGA Tour victory at the Farmers Insurance Open on Saturday, Homa was asked how he has bolstered his self-belief in the last two or three years. Homa praised his sports psychologist, Julie Elion, who has previously worked with the likes of Phil Mickelson and Jimmy Walker, as well as the 2008 U.S. Ryder Cup team.
According to Homa, his work with Elion helped steady his mental strength coming into the final round at the Farmers.
“The confidence is becoming more steady,” he said. “I’ve been working with a sports psychologist, Julie, who has — I mean, the last two months have opened my eyes to a lot of things. Having a plan each day mentally. I didn’t go into a single round this week thinking about a technical goal or a statistical goal, it was I’m going to learn something today, I’m going to put in place what I’ve been working on, and today that’s what I did. I did a great job of it.
“I told her last night, she asked if I wanted to talk, I said I’m all good because I thought our game plan yesterday was fantastic. I didn’t play the greatest round of golf in the world, but I did everything that I wanted to do and put myself in a position to win a golf tournament.”
That mental focus for Homa was evident between the third and fourth rounds, when he could have let frustration get the best of him.
Instead of allowing his 71 on Friday deter him — when he struck the ball well but just couldn’t get anything to drop — Homa went out and shot a 66 on Saturday to take home the victory.
In the past, Homa admitted he may have been rattled. But he took confidence with him into the final round despite some shots not going his way the day prior.
“(Friday) was a bigger day towards the end goal than today really was because I had it, I had my game, I played awesome, swung it great, just did not make anything,” he said. “Held it together and shot one under and gave myself a chance today to go play the same round of golf and let the ball go in the hole.”
How Max Homa began working with a sports psychologist
Homa’s caddie, Joe Greiner, first suggested that his boss work with a sports psychologist. Homa didn’t initially have interest — having disliked it in the past — but acknowledged that he was still missing an untapped facet of his game.
Other great athletes, from Tom Brady to Michael Jordan to Aaron Judge, have experienced the benefits of working with a sports psychologist to improve their mental strength. And, while Homa is still just scratching the surface in his work with Elion, he said he now understands how important that process has been in helping him reach new heights.
“I think it will be a momentous part of my journey in this game,” he said. “I had never worked on my mental game the way (Joe) was talking about it. He said, ‘I’m not telling you this because I think you’re broken, I’m telling you this because I think it can boost us real high in this game.”