PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. — The rumors are swirling ’round Riviera Country Club, riding the south wind across the driving range and up the hill across the clubhouse patio, the inevitable end point for every conversation. Who’s going? How many millions? Wait, are you sure?
Cases for and against the open-secret Saudi-backed breakaway golf league have entered the public domain in recent weeks. The extent to which those cases are convincing has varied, ranging from Phil Mickelson’s accusation of the PGA Tour’s “obnoxious greed” spurring the move (unconvincing) to Charley Hoffman’s nebulous fear that bad rules would inspire players to flee (even less convincing) to Collin Morikawa’s implication that the tour’s legitimacy was the biggest sticking point rather than the source of its funding (more believable) and on.
Several top pros have now pledged their allegiance to the PGA Tour, including Jon Rahm, Morikawa and Rory McIlroy. Plenty of others haven’t pledged loyalty one way or another. But perhaps the most clear-headed answer of all came from Genesis defending champ Max Homa, who was asked about his own allegiance and spoke from his head and from his heart and made the most sense of all.
“My allegiance to the PGA Tour? (Laughs.) Yeah, I don’t know, the stuff’s crazy. I, for one, have not signed an NDA, nor have I talked to anybody who would offer me an NDA. I don’t know anything,” he began.
This is part of Homa’s relatability; in contrast to Adam Scott (“like everyone else, we’re sworn to secrecy,” he said) and Lee Westwood (who said he’d signed an NDA) he comes at the entire saga from the same perspective as a fan or spectator. It’s easier to have a clear-headed answer when you only have one option, of course.
“It’s been fun reading all of your guys’ articles and piecing them all together,” Homa said, half-joking. “I heard one yesterday that someone said 17 people signed and somebody else said they haven’t heard anybody, so I guess that’s kind of telling of what’s going on.”
That’s not to say Homa doesn’t consider this sort of thing; he thinks about it constantly. No Tour pro can ignore it. But his counterargument was the best defense of the PGA Tour I’ve heard. There’s value in familiar courses and familiar events and familiar prizes. There’s significance to Riviera the way there’s significance to Wrigley Field. Now that Homa owns a familiar title at a familiar course, the status quo seems even more appealing.
“We think about it a lot, talk about it a lot,” he said. “It’s an interesting dynamic we’ve got going. I love the PGA Tour. Driving up to this golf course with memories of winning a golf tournament that Tiger Woods handed me a trophy? They don’t have that in a breakaway league.
“Money’s cool. People out here, some people play for the money, some people play for the love of it, I guess the enjoyment of the successes. But I can promise you right now that the furthest thing from my mind and furthest thing from anyone’s question when I won this golf tournament was that I made the most money I’ve ever made in one lump: $1.6-something-million.
“That’s not the part that I remember. That’s my take on it. I’m not saying that these leagues couldn’t be great, and things may change. My point is everything from this golf tournament that has made me get the chills as I talk about it and get the chills as I drive up [to Riviera] and think, “What the hell?” when I see my picture on things out on the golf course that I grew up to love, I would not be getting that anywhere else. That’s my allegiance, I guess.”
It was a mic-drop moment that the Tour would do well to replicate; if they were running a political campaign they’d repurpose Homa’s testimony for a TV ad. Another reporter followed up. Homa doubled down.
“Money matters, I’m not saying it doesn’t, but I’m just saying no one’s offered me a dollar to play the thing, so at this point, when I think about what makes me happy at the moment, money makes me comfortable, it hasn’t made me happy. When I come to an event like this, it even puts more perspective on how much I enjoy playing on the
“Never say never to things. And again, I know nothing. I don’t even know — I know there’s going to be some captains and teams, I don’t know anything past that. So it’s really hard to formulate an opinion about something that you know nearly nothing about. I guess my point is that what I do know about is the PGA Tour. I’ve played it for a little over a handful of years and it’s created some really awesome memories for me. So at the moment I would say I’m pretty biased, I very much enjoy playing out here. I think they’ve done a great job of giving us an opportunity to compete for something we love.
“And if you do love money, too, we play for a lot of that out here, too. It’s not so bad.”