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February 5, 2014

Max Homa


DAVE SENKO:  We would like to welcome Max Homa to the interview room.  This is your first obviously your first time playing here.  How much of a thrill is it to be a Cal product and playing at Pebble Beach?
MAX HOMA:  Yeah, it's pretty cool.  I couldn't imagine doing this about a year ago.  And getting to go it school up here, it kind of makes it more special.  I know I have some teammates and friends coming out, so it really makes me appreciate it even more.
DAVE SENKO:  I know you talked a little bit on the way down about having a chance to look at these courses.  So far what's your impression been of the rotation, these three.
MAX HOMA:  It's a pretty great rotation.  I got to play Pebble about a month, month and a half ago and that's the most beautiful golf course I've ever been on.
Spyglass is tough.  It's just pretty much hard from beginning to end.  And then Monterey Peninsula Country Club I think is one of the more underrated courses I've been on.  I played there about three years ago.  We kind of talked about how the views were so good and it was kind of unexpected, just because it kind of gets pushed aside with all the other great courses in the area.
So it's obviously going to be a great week and it's a great field and got all the celebrities out.  So it's pretty nice when they get to play these three places.
DAVE SENKO:  Questions?

Q.  We talked at the Fry's in October.  What have you learned since then and going through your first few events as a pro?  It's usually a difficult transition from college.  How are you sort of managing it to this point?
MAX HOMA:  I think I'm still in the early phases of learning that.  The biggest struggle I think is not seeing the courses before.  My last two weeks, playing Torrey and here, I mean it's five courses I had to play for practice rounds and you really don't get that many days.
So I'm still trying to figure out how exactly to prepare.  This week especially it's going to be kind of tricky.  But I think it's all part of the learning curve.  I think you also just have to be ready for the things like this and I guess, once I kind of get a game plan, it will be a little bit easier.  But I think this is only my fourth event, so I'm still kind of getting used to it.

Q.¬† I don't have a good list in front of me, but it would seem like you take someone like Jordan Spieth who had a really nice year last year, even though he crashed out of Q‑School.¬† Justin Thomas another brave one who's trying to work his way through the Web.com.¬† Guys coming out of college are all good, some seem like they can get on right away, others take kind of a different route.¬† Peter Uihlein even, for that matter.¬† How much of it is, I don't know if luck is the right word as much as good timing.¬† How much do you have to rely on that?
MAX HOMA:¬† I've used that term too.¬† I don't like to use luck, because I think if you‑‑

Q.  I use it a lot, but.
MAX HOMA:  Yeah, that's fair.  Because I feel like if you're out here, you aren't exactly lucky, but I would say that going into Fry's I was playing as good of golf as I have been playing for most of that summer.  And playing well at the right time is a big deal.
I know Justin Thomas, last week, he's a good friend of mine, he was playing at Torrey, and I talked to him before and he goes, I just have no momentum.¬† And it's tough because we don't get that many starts in a row.¬† You really have to capitalize on the ones you get.¬† And then Justin hits it big and gets top‑10.
Jordan was the same way.  I think he didn't get into a lot of events in the beginning of the year and the ones he got into, it wasn't great and then all of a sudden he kind of got in a groove.
So it's tough, but when you kind of get lucky enough to hit your stride in a week when you need it, it can kind of change your life for the most part.

Q.  Make that fortunate, not lucky enough, right?
MAX HOMA:  Fortunate.

Q.  You were sixth at Fry's?  Fourth?
MAX HOMA:  No, I got ninth at Fry's.

Q.¬† Ninth.¬† What did that do for you in terms of ‑‑ well, how do I phrase this?¬† I guess I'm looking at what your different goals are for the year.¬† I remember Jordan a year ago was talking at the very minimum he was hoping to get into the playoff thing at the end.¬† How much points did you get from that from Fry's that would push new that direction?
MAX HOMA:  Fry's and Vegas, I got 30th at Vegas, which was actually a pretty decent bonus.  And it changes things because I think I was in the same boat where, I mean, even for me, I don't think I was thinking so much the playoffs at the end, I was just thinking to kind of learn.
But now I have seen what Jordan did and I wanted to do what he did, kind of get that unlimited exemption.¬† Because I feel like if I could do that I might even be able to hop into the top‑125 and not have to go to playoffs.¬† So that's kind of my more big term goal.
But I also saw, if you win, all that goes away.  So that's my most immediate goal.  And I think that's what Fry's taught me too is, I mean, ninth place, you're not that far out of it.  I actually felt like I was in it to win it that last day.  So it kind of changed my perspective on what I should be thinking going into the event.

Q.  When the opportunity presents itself you want to just go?
MAX HOMA:  You need to take it.

Q.  Vegas wouldn't have counted toward your seven then, right?

Q.  What are you at?  How many have you taken?
MAX HOMA:  One, two, this is my third.  And I have two more setup.

Q.  Can you say what they are?
MAX HOMA:  Yeah, actually I don't know if I can, so I'll leave it.  But I have a couple more set up.  I'm playing Riviera next week.  Which is back in my hometown, so that's going to be fun.

Q.  What is your status?  Do you have just seven sponsor's exemptions on this TOUR and you are fully exempt on Nationwide?
MAX HOMA:  Yeah, I'm fully exempt for the first 12 weeks on Web.com.  So that's that.  I think I need, I'm 40 percent of the way to the unlimited sponsors exemptions status out here.  So.

Q.  40 percent?
MAX HOMA:  I think so.

Q.  And how are you approaching, it's kind of a different animal when you're playing here and then to in addition to the Web.com are you going to go to straight to there or what?
MAX HOMA:  It depends.  If I can do well in these next couple weeks and get some more FedExCup points, hopefully I don't have to go down there.  But if I do, I mean, it's the same mindset, you just, the field might be a little bit different, and the feel of it all, but it's the same general idea.

Q.  How long are they in South America?
MAX HOMA:  Four weeks.  I think there are four events down there.  It starts next week in Columbia.

Q.  Are you going to go to any of those four?
MAX HOMA:  I think I'm going to Panama.  It's really confusing.

Q.  That got pushed to the end though, right?
MAX HOMA:  It got moved.  It was supposed to be this week and then it got moved and pushed to the last of the four rotation.  So.

Q.  How important though is it to have that 12 event exemption?  I mean, obviously, you want to be here, but that's at least a stepping stone, isn't it?
MAX HOMA:¬† It's actually really funny, because after I played Fry's and Vegas, I had to go straight to North Carolina and qualify through first stage.¬† And I was kind of joking because it was such a big step down from what I had just done.¬† And I was laughing, because I didn't think I was going to get that opportunity.¬† And I was telling ‑‑ it was actually my mom, who I was saying, like it's probably not the biggest deal if I don't get through Q‑School ‑‑ because I was exhausted‑‑ if I don't get through, because I have this to fall back on, hopefully six more starts and the unlimited sponsor's exemption thing that I could get.
And she told me, she's like, I don't know, she's like, I think you should take it pretty seriously, you never know how it might play out.  Like you want to have it in your hands.  And it's funny, now that I have that to fall back on, it's really, it's just a nice security to have.  I feel like if things don't go the way I want them to out here, I have something to fall back on and it kind of gives me piece of mind, to be honest.

Q.  And that's 12 events, doesn't have be to the first 12, it's whenever?
MAX HOMA:  No, it's the first 12.  But if you, if you make enough money, I think, through those 12 that you get, you get in the reshuffle, you don't get pushed back.  It just kind of depends how you play.

Q.¬† That was confusing.¬† Was the 25 exempt all the way through?¬† Top‑25?
MAX HOMA:  Yeah.  But they still had to go to the playoffs, except Michael Putnam.  He could go, but he was never going to move from the No. 1 spot.  But the 25 that qualified, it wasn't necessarily that they were 2 through 25 anymore.

Q.¬† Hold on.¬† I was talking about the Web.com Q‑School in December.
MAX HOMA:  Oh, that was 45.

Q.¬† Top‑45 were exempt?
MAX HOMA:¬† Top‑45 were.¬† Top ‑‑ first place was exempt for the whole year.¬† He was the only fully exempt.¬† Top‑10 was exempt for the first 12 weeks and then I think it just ranked you from there.¬† Down even through 156 or whatever it was.

Q.  You don't know what's going on, Dave, don't even try.
DAVE SENKO:  I think that the like 13 through 24 got like eight spots.

Q.  Kind of like you do on the Champions Tour?
DAVE SENKO:  Yeah.  No cut.
(Laughter.)  Right.  It works its way down.  If you're like 80th, you're going to struggle to get in some events, I think.

Q.  Sorry for asking this.  NCAA champion last year?
MAX HOMA:  Yeah.

Q.¬† Does it bother you that there's not a reward from first stage of Q‑School for someone whose either won an NCAA title?
MAX HOMA:  I thought it was odd I didn't get anything through first stage, because I got ninth at a PGA TOUR event.  I'm not really big on the exemptions from amateur and college events.  Maybe something big, like winning the U.S. Amateur or something where everyone goes.
But as far as the individual NCAA championship goes, it's only three rounds.¬† I mean, it's a big deal to me, I'm really honored to win it, but I ‑‑ I'm not completely surprised that there's not something.¬† It would have been nice for me, but I wasn't, I didn't win that event and look at what I could have gotten.¬† It was just, it's nice to have on my resume.¬† It's gotten me far, just because of that.

Q.  Do you think it would be looked upon differently if it were still 72?
MAX HOMA:  Oh, yeah, for sure.  Because there's no big amateur event that's not 72 holes.  All the biggest ones you play in over summer are four rounds and that's how you play out here, so that's why they do that, I think.

Q.  Now that you're out of college and can answer this unbiasedly, do you think we'll ever see the day, if the NCAA were back to a 72 hole thing, that Augusta would look at it?
MAX HOMA:  I think so.  From what I heard they would consider it.  But I don't blame them right now.  54 hole, especially squeezing it in the middle.  We played the first three days and had to play another three days.  I mean, it doesn't have the feel, I didn't feel the heat that you would probably feel in a U.S. Amateur or something like that.
So I could see them looking at it.  But it's a big spot to give.  That's Augusta.  I mean, that's a dream for each and every one of us out here.  So it would be cool, but they can't do it until they move it to a 72 hole.

Q.  Did you like the move to match play?  The new format?
MAX HOMA:  I'm really biased, because I think we lost in the semis and we were the best team.

Q.  Ever.  I know.
MAX HOMA:  So that was tough for us.  But I do, I agree that it's a lot more exciting.  I just don't think that necessarily the best way to find the best team.  But then again, neither is March Madness.  You're not necessarily getting the team that was the best throughout the year.  So I can see what they're doing.  But I'm extremely biased on that topic.

Q.  I would bet the Oklahoma State guys from a couple years ago would agree with you?
MAX HOMA:  Yeah, they were close.  I remember that year I couldn't believe how good that team was.  Especially when you look at what they have done now.  Which is I think a big part of it.  But even Georgia, Georgia had Henley, Swafford and Harris English and they didn't win either.
So it just, it's, it is exciting.¬† Like I enjoyed watching it, when I wasn't in the match play, but the two years I was in it, it was just‑‑ it was ridiculous ‑‑ we shouldn't have come as close as we did to beating Alabama my junior year for how good they were that year.¬† They won mostly every stroke play event and then all of a sudden we took them to the last match.¬† So it's funny how it works out.¬† But it's exciting, hopefully it will gain some popularity with it going to the Golf Channel and that.

Q.  The March Madness parallel is good.  The reason it's so popular isn't that it identifies the best team, it's because any team can be out with one loss.
MAX HOMA:¬† That's the beauty of it.¬† I mean, I haven't‑‑ if Cal makes it to the tournament, I have a lot of faith that you can win it.¬† It's just, I mean George Mason.¬† But you don't, you, if you're, if you're, you know, Duke, you don't want to know that George Mason can potentially win, so.

Q.¬† Right, because it's ‑‑
MAX HOMA:  It depends where you stand.
DAVE SENKO:  All right, Max.  Thank you.
MAX HOMA:  Thank you.

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