PALM HARBOR, Fla. (AP) — Max Homa didn’t make the cut and couldn’t even shoot par his previous three trips…
PALM HARBOR, Fla. (AP) — Max Homa didn’t make the cut and couldn’t even shoot par his previous three trips to the Valspar Championship. He had a simple explanation for why he’s playing well this year.
“I think I’m just better at golf now,” Homa said Friday.
With a 3-wood that set up a short eagle putt and a few long birdie putts with perfect pace, Homa stumbled a bit at the end and still had a 3-under 68 to share the early lead with Lucas Glover.
Keegan Bradley, who had a two-shot lead after the opening round at Innisbrook, was among those playing in the steamy afternoon with temperatures again pushing 90.
Glover had a good stretch of his own, hitting 6-iron from 209 yards to 4 feet on No. 3, the hardest hole of the second round on the Copperhead course. He followed that with a chip 7-iron to a front pin just over the bunker on the par-3 fourth, settling 4 feet away for another birdie.
Glover had three good looks over the final four holes without making them, though he was plenty satisfied with a 65 to join Homa at 8-under 134.
Homa is still riding high from his victory at Riviera in February, which he won in a playoff over Tony Finau. He also is moving closer to his ultimate goal of playing well whenever and wherever he tees it up.
It’s not perfect every week. It looks good at Innisbrook, particularly his putting. His 25-foot birdie putt on the par-3 17th and his 30-foot birdie putt down the hill at No. 4 had just the right touch. He has been working hard on the longer putts, and it shows.
Homa can’t find too much wrong with any part of his game at the moment.
“Good golf is good golf. Good golf travels,” Homa said. “When you’re not playing well, it doesn’t matter how comfortable you are; you’re still probably not going to play so good. My game just feels a lot more whole, a lot better, a lot more repeatable. I feel like I’m not showing up on certain weeks feeling like I just don’t have it at all, which is good.”
Among those who played early, past champion Charl Schwartzel (65), Sungjae Im (67), Zach Johnson (67) and Tom Lewis of England (65) were one shot behind.
Dustin Johnson made enough putts for a 68 and was at 3-under 139, while Justin Thomas felt as though he made nothing at all in his round of 71 that left him another shot behind.
Glover is trying to build confidence. Unlike Homa, he doesn’t have a recent victory to give him a spark. The last win for the former U.S. Open champion was 10 years ago at Quail Hollow.
Still, there is a rhythm to how he plays and how he walks that is starting to look familiar. Glover doesn’t waste any time stepping over the ball and making contact — usually in the middle of the clubface — nor does he get overly excited on a Friday.
But it’s a step in the right direction. His iron play has been average. His short game has bailed him out. All he wants now is to get his game a little more tidy.
“Two more rounds to go. A lot can happen,” Glover said. “But I’m happy the way I’m playing, happy with the way I’m putting and just want to have a shot.”
Copyright © 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.
Business News Governmental News Finance News
Need Your Help Today. Your $1 can change life.