Cal's Homa wins NCAA individual title by 3 shots


MILTON, Ga. – About two months ago, Cal’s Max Homa grappled with a decision that every top-tier senior inevitably faces:

When should I turn pro?

Homa’s decision proved harder than most, given his sterling credentials and burning desire to play on this year’s U.S. Walker Cup team.

But a friend recently gave him the advice that helped cement his choice: “He said being pro is always going to be there, but can you live with yourself if you turn down the opportunity? And I said no. Once I got that out of the way, I just got so focused on that goal, and it was so close, and it gave me the direction about where I was going.”

Well, this week certainly helped validate Homa’s decision.

With a closing, bogey-free 66 Thursday, Homa won the individual title at the NCAA Championship. He finished at 9-under 201, three shots clear of six players.

Since clearing his mind in early April, Homa has tied for second at the Western Intercollegiate, opened with 61 to win the Pac-12 Championship, tied for 11th at the NCAA regionals and now captured arguably the second most significant title in amateur golf.

“He’s been a changed man since then,” Cal coach Steve Desimone said.

What now for Homa?

The match-play portion of this championship, of course.

Cal won the stroke-play qualifier, finishing at 16-under 824, and will head into the weekend here looking to cement its status as the greatest college team in history. A victory this weekend would be the Golden Bears’ 12th in 14 starts.

Forever the team player, Homa said he’d allow himself about 30 minutes to celebrate this individual accomplishment, then refocus for Friday.

“The job is not done,” he said. “This is part one. I’m as excited as I can be. I’m going to soak it up for a minute and then focus on the real prize.”