Max Homa can enjoy time away with a rock-solid foundation

Hal Sutton once went into a slump so severe he was embarrassed to be on the range next to the best players. When he finally got back on track, there was a time he was worried about leaving his clubs in the closet for too long in case his game left him.

Max Homa can appreciate the feeling. He emerged from a terrible slump, even though it didn’t last as long as Sutton’s, nor did he fall as far.

“I would say every day that I take a break, I get nervous that it’s going to go away,” Homa said. “But that’s what you have a good team for. That’s why you surround yourself with great people.”

That’s not to confuse nervousness with panic. For Homa, there is a confidence that comes from the work he put in to get to this point — four wins in the last two years, a 4-0 record in his Presidents Cup debut and No. 17 in the world ranking.

It goes back to a story Homa shared on a “No Laying Up” podcast four years ago about a stonecutter who hammers away on a huge boulder and shatters it with the 101st strike. The quote he found from Kobe Bryant was that a wise man knows it wasn’t the last swing but the 100 swings that came before it.

Homa took one of his longer breaks — he and his wife had their first child — between the CJ Cup (Oct. 23) and the Hero World Challenge (Dec. 1), not just time away from tournaments but not touching a club for a couple of weeks.

“For my friends who know me, I don’t do that,” Homa said. “It was cool. Came back out to the golf course, hit the ball well, joked I still had it and moved back along.

“I’ve seen some lows, but those lows didn’t start from me taking a break from golf,” he said. “So I’ve got to remind myself of that a lot when I do decide to take a break. My mechanics are better now, I’ve put a lot of time in. I don’t fear it like in a realistic way.”

The next break will be shorter, three weeks before the Sentry Tournament of Champions.

TEAM GOLF VENUE

The next golf arena sure to get plenty of TV time is being built on a college campus in South Florida.

TMRW Sports said Tuesday it is building the venue for the high-tech golf league “TGL” on the Palm Beach Gardens campus of Palm Beach State College.

Construction is expected to begin in early 2023. TGL launches in 2024, a series of Monday night matches among six three-player teams in a tech-infused competition that lasts two hours.

TMRW Sports co-founders Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, along with Justin Thomas and Jon Rahm, are the first players announced for TGL.

Mike McCarley, another co-founder and former Golf Channel president, said the arena will be built on a 10-acre parcel of unused land. The partnership includes educational and recreational initiatives that will benefit Palm Beach State College students, along with offering paid internships and other opportunities for students in technology, hospitality and administrative services.

Woods and McIlroy live in the Palm Beach area.

QUEEN BEE

Inbee Park’s next big trophy will be off the golf course. The seven-time major champion and Olympic gold medalist took to Instagram to announce that she and her husband are expecting their first child.

“We are thrilled to announce that we will be welcoming new member of our family,” she wrote.

Park did not say when the baby was due.

Park first picked up a golf club the day after Se Ri Pak won the U.S. Women’s Open in 1998. Ten years later, Park won the first of her seven majors at Interlachen in the U.S. Women’s Open. She has won the four biggest LPGA majors and Olympic gold in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

The most recent of her 21 LPGA titles was the Kia Classic in March 21.

RYDER CUP PREVIEW

Not long after Europe suffered its worst loss in the Ryder Cup, players already were thinking ahead to the next one in Rome.

And that starts with Abu Dhabi.

The next big event on the European tour schedule is the Hero Cup, which is patterned after the former Seve Trophy. The idea is to gain experience in the format and flow ahead of the September 2023 matches at Marco Simone in Italy.

Tommy Fleetwood is the playing captain for Britain and Ireland, and Francesco Molinari leads continental Europe.

Fleetwood said the concept was talked about on the flight home from Whistling Straits.

“It’s another chance to play team golf,” Fleetwood said. “I told my dad they could ask me to be a playing captain for Team GBI. He was more proud of that than anything I’ve won. That’s a cool part of it.”

Fleetwood will have Ryder Cup experience in Tyrrell Hatton and Shane Lowry. Also on his squad are Bob MacIntyre of Scotland, Seamus Power of Ireland and the English trio of Jordan Smith, Matt Wallace and Callum Shinkwin.

Molinari has two players with Ryder Cup experience in Alex Noren and Thomas Pieters. Also picked to play are Thomas Detry of Belgium, Victor Perez of France, Adrian Meronk of Poland, Rasmus Hojgaard of Denmark, Guido Migliozzi of Italy and Sepp Straka of Austria.

Each team will add one more player before the Jan. 13-15 competition, a week before the European tour schedule resumes at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

SPONSOR RENEWAL

The European tour extended one of its most important partnerships in a deal with BMW through 2027.

The relationship dates to 1989 when the Munich-based automaker ran and promoted the BMW International Open in Munich. BMW since has became the title sponsor of the European tour’s flagship event at Wentworth (BMW PGA Championship). It also is the official car of the tour.

BMW also sponsors a FedEx Cup playoff event on the PGA Tour and an LPGA event in South Korea.

DIVOTS

Former PGA champion Jeff Sluman has been nominated to a three-year term on the USGA’s executive committee. He would be replacing Nick Price, who is retiring from the committee. Price was the first player to serve on the committee as the USGA sought input from inside the ropes. … The Thai LPGA is now part of the women’s world golf ranking, making it the 12th tour to be included in the ranking. The Thai LPGA staged 10 tournaments of 54 holes last season and plans the same schedule in 2023. … European tour CEO Keith Pelley takes over as chairman of the International Golf Federation. His four-year term succeeds that of PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan. Among other things, the IGF is the governing body for golf in the Olympics. … Dean Burmester is playing the Mauritius Open, co-sanctioned by the European tour. He would need to win to have any chance of moving from No. 56 into the top 50 by the end of the year. That would get him a Masters invitation.

STAT OF THE WEEK

Tom Kim and Cameron Young started the year outside the top 100 in the world. Both are now among the top 20.

FINAL WORD

“I can’t wait to start next year. I want to start tomorrow.” — Bailey Tardy, who earned an LPGA Tour card through the eight-round Q-Series. Tardy had missed out on a card through the Epson Tour by one spot, two spots and one spot the previous three years.

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AP golf: https://apnews.com/hub/golf and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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