Why Open pro heard something he shouldn’t — and then hit it in the bleachers

Max Homa

Max Homa, caddie Joe Greiner and an official on Thursday on the 18th hole at Royal Liverpool.

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Max Homa, about 275 yards out on the 18th at Royal Liverpool, was perhaps holding too much club, though those weren’t just his words. And he was steaming. 

As play has begun at this Open Championship, its closing hole has created all kinds of discomfort. There’s the much-discussed internal out of bounds just yards to the right of the fairway. There are the much-discussed pot bunkers, five in all around the flag, some 600 yards away from the tee box. There’s everything else that makes links golf links golf — rough and wind and slopes and humps and bumps. 

And scores have been indicative. On Thursday, during the first round, there was a notable eight; Rickie Fowler had that, after he deposited two O.B. right. And there was a notable nine; Justin Thomas had that, after he took a couple strokes from the greenside bunkers. And there was a notable 10; Taichi Cho had that, after he took more than a couple strokes from those same bunkers. All in all, the scoring average was 5.12, slightly above the par of five.

How best to play it? Homa had this thought.    

“On 18 for us, it was just like get the ball on the green and let’s go home.”

It was the personable 32-year-old, after all, who had found another danger. 

Back to that 275-yarder, and Homa’s second shot on 18 after a 310-yard poke into the fairway. He had just seen playing partner Collin Morikawa hit over the green, where he took a drop due to the nearby grandstands. Home felt he was between clubs.   

He wasn’t alone. 

A nearby TV was telling him as much, too. 

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“We were in between clubs,” Homa said afterward. “There was really not anything I could do there. I was kind of trying to hit it back where Collin did and maybe get lucky and spin one and get it on the green, but it just was really in between. 

“And plus, I don’t know if anybody has mentioned this before, but you can hear the commentators on the broadcast from the big TV, and I was over the ball and one of them said, ‘This is too much club.’ 

“I did an absolutely awful job of not backing off because I knew it was too much club; that was the point.” 

The result? Homa rocketed his ball into the stands. From there, he pitched on and two-putted for a par-5, and a three-under-68 round. He was relieved. 

“It does matter where you leave it,” he said. “I’ve noticed that in links even last week, I’ve noticed when you’re chipping into the wind and when you don’t have a bunker in your way, you can do what you want to, which is nice, but the moment you have those things in your way, the golf course kind of dictates what you’re going to do.”

As for the overheard analysis on 18?

“Yeah, I’m hoping they turn that down tomorrow because it is really distracting.”

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Nick Piastowski

Nick Piastowski

Golf.com Editor

Nick Piastowski is a Senior Editor at Golf.com and Golf Magazine. In his role, he is responsible for editing, writing and developing stories across the golf space. And when he’s not writing about ways to hit the golf ball farther and straighter, the Milwaukee native is probably playing the game, hitting the ball left, right and short, and drinking a cold beer to wash away his score. You can reach out to him about any of these topics — his stories, his game or his beers — at nick.piastowski@golf.com.