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Homa dreams of major breakthrough as US Open returns to LA

LOS ANGELES (AFP) – California kid Max Homa dreamed of contending for a major in his hometown, and now that the US Open is returning to Los Angeles after a 75-year hiatus he could get his chance.

Homa actually holds the course record on the Los Angeles Country Club’s North Course, where he carded a 61 in the first round on the way to victory in the prestigious collegiate Pacific-12 conference championship in 2013.

The par-70 layout at the exclusive club, which last hosted a PGA Tour event in 1940, promises to offer an even tougher challenge this week, but Homa said the biggest obstacle to the major breakthrough he seeks is his own mindset.

“You just look at how I played every other major, trying way too hard,” said Homa, a six-time winner on the PGA Tour whose best major finish is a tie for 13th at last year’s PGA Championship.

In five prior US Opens his best finish is a tie for 47th at Brookline last year.

However, he said his excitement at the prospect of playing a US Open in his hometown has, paradoxically, helped him temper that tendency.

Max Homa. PHOTO: AFP

“In an odd way, it’s almost worked its way out positively because I’ve been thinking about this event for, like, a year, about how I can’t try too hard, can’t try too hard,” he said.

It’s a lesson he let himself forget at last month’s PGA Championship, where he finished tied for 55th. But that has only reinforced the need to relax just a little.

“Fortunately I’m coming off a PGA Championship that I tried too hard at, and it’s right on the tip of my brain not to do that this week,” Homa said.

Homa is certainly no stranger to success in Southern California. He won the Genesis Invitational at nearby Riviera in 2021 and claimed one of his two titles this year down the road at Torrey Pines.

The world number seven is excited to play in front of family, friends and fans who know not only where he went to college but even where he went to high school.

He’s been careful to organise his week so he’s to distracted by requests for tickets and so forth so he can focus on his preparations, but not to the point that he gets in his own way.

“When you’re trying too hard you care too much about where the ball goes,” Homa said.

“You’re going to hit fairways, you’re going to miss fairways. You’re going to hit greens, you’re going to miss greens. You’re going to hit putts that go in and some that miss. I think it just comes down to stacking those up over the course of a week and seeing where that takes you.

“I’ve done a very poor job of that in a lot of big golf tournaments, but especially the majors. I’ve done a good job of that in some other events, so I’m just trying to find whatever is in those moments where it’s been great and take that to a championship like this.”