Homa puts past Masters woes behind him

Homa puts past Masters woes behind him


Homa's calm round put him in contention for the green jacket for the first time in his career

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Augusta (United States) (AFP) – American Max Homa put aside his poor record at Augusta National, high winds and Tiger Woods fans on every hole to share the second-round Masters lead on Friday.

Up against a swirling wind and playing 23 holes in a day, Homa's calm round put him in contention for the green jacket for the first time in his career.

The wind produced a mini sandstorm from the bunker on the 18th hole and Homa found that a fitting way to end what had been a challenging day on the course.

"Even the golf course was saying, 'Get the hell out of here,'" joked the 33-year-old after carding a one-under 71 with birdies on the second and fourth and a bogey on the 11th.

The Californian missed the cut in his first two appearances at Augusta and finished tied for 48th and 43rd in the past two tournaments here. But Homa said his mindset of not trying to "take on" the famed course had paid off.

"When I was out of position, I did a great job of getting back into it," Homa said. "I made some really good putts to make that look even better. But, in general, just taking what I get, what the golf course gives me.

"Been quite difficult out there. I struck the ball really well. I've really done everything quite well on the golf course, but most proud of what's gone on with our course management and just controlling thoughts and expectation and all that.

"It has been quite fun (but) I am very glad to be inside, I will say." Woods was impressed with what he saw from Homa at close-hand.

"He's got all the talent in the world," Woods said. "I got a chance to play with him at the Open Championship at St. Andrews and his ball flight, as solid as he hits it, it's just a matter of time before he starts winning in bunches.

"I saw it up front. He doesn't really mis-hit shots. That's something you just have to do around this golf course."

Huge crowds

The presence of Woods drew huge crowds to watch the group and Homa said that paradoxically led to a little less pressure on himself. "They block me and Jason (Day) out. So it's actually quite easy," he said.

"At one point, I think (I was) leading, and I imagine would I have felt more pressure in a way had I not been playing with Tiger. So I think that was a good thing.

"It was quite fun today to just observe the crowd and how they react to Tiger and what he does. I didn't actually find it too difficult. He's really easy to play with. And the crowd doesn't know you're there, which is pretty awesome."

Homa's results in majors have been disappointing with a share of 10th at the British Open last year his best return in a record strewn with missed cuts.

But he has had six wins on the PGA Tour and one on the DP World Tour and says he won't have to contend with too much hype from those around him.

"I'm very fortunate," he said. "I have a wife that does not let me gloat and I have friends back at the house that will just want to hear about what Tiger did today. So I'm surrounded by some awesome people."