Sports

Here’s what Quail Hollow dark horse Max Homa wants you to know: He’s relentless.

Max Homa lost his PGA Tour card in 2018 after only making two of 17 cuts the year before.
Max Homa lost his PGA Tour card in 2018 after only making two of 17 cuts the year before. AP

Ah, the Wells Fargo Championship leaderboard everyone expected.

Former PGA Championship winner Jason Dufner, and... Max Homa?

After shooting an 8-under 63 in the second round Friday at Quail Hollow, Homa was tied with Joel Dahmen for second heading into the weekend. Before play was suspended twice Saturday afternoon for severe thunderstorms in the area, Homa had actually pulled into the outright lead at 12-under par for the tournament. He shot 2-under on the front nine, birdying No. 2 and No. 8 to take a one-stroke edge over Dufner.

A quick get-to-know-you about the 28-year-old:

1. He’s a national champion: After growing up in California, Homa continued his golf career at California-Berkeley. He went on to win an individual national championship in 2013, the same year he competed as an amateur in the U.S. Open.

2. He recently lost his PGA Tour card: After making only two cuts in 17 PGA Tour events in 2017, Homa actually lost his PGA Tour card, which allows players to enter any PGA Tour event they like. But following the 2018 Web.com Tour season, Homa regained his card for the current season.

“Two years ago, streaky very bad,” Homa said of those 2017 troubles. “Honestly, this year’s been the most consistent I’ve played.”

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3. His caddy keeps him upbeat — and talkative: Despite his early struggles, Homa said Friday he does his best to stay positive. . That’s easier when he’s playing like he did Friday, but also, his caddy won’t let him beat himself up.

“I don’t really get too down on myself,” Homa said. “I have an awesome, awesome caddy that doesn’t let me. If I’m quiet, he yells at me and tells me quiet golfers are usually very mean to themselves. So we have a good thing going.”

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4. The tattoo on his arm has real significance: During his post-round interviews on Friday, Homa kept flashing a tattoo on his arm that says “relentless,” which, he says, reflects one of his key personality traits.

“It’s always been my favorite word,” he said. “There’s a great book, one of the basketball trainers, the book’s called ‘Relentless.’ It’s always been my favorite word in college. Just kind of being tougher than everybody, not giving up.

“When I played very, very bad two years ago, I just kept thinking about that word. I knew I was going to be back out here and I was going to make myself get back out here, and that’s when my attitude changed. You’ve kind of got to love yourself a little bit more.”

5. He isn’t as surprised by his success Friday: Homa fielded a number of questions about where this round of his Friday came from, but he made it clear it wasn’t as shocking to him as it may have been to the public.

“A course like this sets up great for me,” Homa said. “A lot of 7-irons, 8-irons in, drive it in the fairway. So I’m not really that surprised.

“Everybody else probably will be, but I was kind of waiting for this to happen.”

Brendan Marks is a general assignment sports reporter for the Charlotte Observer covering the Carolina Panthers, Charlotte Hornets, NASCAR and more. He graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and has worked for the Observer since August 2017.
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