It's Impossible To Handle Defeat Better Than Max Homa Did Today At The Genesis Invitational
Max Homa has precisely nothing to be ashamed for. He didn't have his best stuff on Sunday at Riviera, and yet he gave the best golfer on the planet a proper battle before Jon Rahm emerged victorious to win the Genesis Invitational.
With his second-place finish, Homa climbs to a career-high ranking of world No. 8. Upon hearing this news, Homa's caddie Joe Greiner let out a primal fist pump. "That's what I'm talking about!" he yelled with joy. Greiner's boss also pocketed $2.18 million dollars. Plus, Homa's already won this event once, two years ago. Things could be far worse.
Why, then, was he holding back tears in his post-round press conference?
Because he cares. Deeply. Homa has a unique voice in our sport—he has seen the depths of professional golf, having made just over $18,000 and missing 15 of 17 cuts in the 2016-17 season. He's also the unofficial face of Golf Twitter with his honest, hilarious and constant chatter online. He's the regular-ass guy who just happens to have an uncanny ability to strike a golf ball in the center of the clubface. He speaks openly about his insecurities, and he's willing to display a vulnerability you don't often see with athletes.
Sunday was a perfect example. After his Hail Mary chip on the 18th lipped out—he needed to hole it to put any pressure on Rahm, who wound up with a two-shot victory—he dropped to to his knees and buried his face in his hands. He put on a brave face for the thousands of spectators around the 18th hole's natural amphitheater, for they'd just spent five hours screaming his name. They did everything in their power to will their hometown kid to victory. Max! SoCal kid! I'm a Homasexual! We love you, Max!
He then walked to the press area looking like a man who'd gone 12 rounds with the champ. He looked physically tired and emotionally spent. So I asked him a simple question: are you more proud of the fight, or disappointed with the loss? He took the opportunity to shower his opponent with praise.
"Yes," he said with a smile. "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. 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. 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."
He wasn't finished pouring his heart out.
"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. But I tried, man. 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. I'm going to win it again and be able to do it in front of all these people."
It's easy to see why no one has a negative word to say about this guy. Not the players, not the caddies, not the fans, not the tournament volunteers, not the media. No one. The best part is, his golf's improved so much that it's almost on par with his personality. Almost.