SoCal Native Max Homa Looks to Defend Genesis Title

February 07, 2022

By Jill Painter Lopez

Max Homa returns to Los Angeles this year with his winning ways, that signature mustache and a little swagger.

The 31-year-old Homa is all local. He was born in Burbank and prepped at Valencia High school. He’s also the defending champion of the Genesis Invitational at Riviera CC. It’s an awesome distinction.

“This is the coolest thing I’ll ever do,” Homa said at Riviera CC recently. “I could win a Masters. I could win five in a row, and this would be cooler than that for me. Just for me. Not for the world of golf but for me.”

Homa lives in Arizona now but this is always home. He’s finding his niche among golf’s elite, too. He won the Wells Fargo Championship in 2019, followed by the Genesis last year and Fortinet Championship in September. That fall win vaulted him to No. 1 in the FedEx Cup rankings for two weeks. He’s now ranked 10th.

Homa is playing some of the best golf of his career the last couple of years and doing it all with his longtime friend and caddie, Joe Greiner.

They met when Homa was 6 years old, on the golf course of course. They enjoy dining together and going to Dodgers and Lakers games.

“I respect him a lot,” Homa said of Greiner. “He was the best golfer in our area growing up, minus maybe one guy. He’s older than me so I look up to him. The way I describe Joe on and off the course is if he tells me I need to do something I take his word for it.

“I know he wants me to be as successful as I want to be, and I think that’s a really cool partnership. We are friends first and business associates second. I know he knows that. We enjoy being with each other. He’s a tremendous golfer.”

Greiner, 35, is four years older than Homa. The two met playing in a tournament at the par-3 Vista Valencia Golf Course, known as “Chica.”

Their partnership culminated in a dream come true victory at Riviera CC.

“It’s our favorite tournament,” Greiner said. “It’s a golf course we’re both really familiar with and an area where we both grew up. There’s a lot of excitement. Max has to get used to defending his title at tournaments. That comes with a little more pressure and a little more stuff to do during the week, so it’s a good learning opportunity for Max to know when to handle when he is defending a tournament and what’s important for him that week to make sure he can still play his best.”

Homa is known for his engaging personality and funny social media posts. Fans know they can post a video of their golf swing, and he’ll have something interesting to say about those hacker swings.

Homa is seemingly unflappable on the course but last year at the Genesis, he missed a short putt on the final hole to win the tournament. He recovered and won on the second playoff hole. He had gone to the driving range before the playoff and talked to his wife, Lacey, on the phone. And Greiner gave him a pep talk. He told him: “Max, this is your city. This is your favorite tournament. And this is your favorite golf course. Now, let’s go win the tournament.”

And they did.

Fans will be back at the tournament this year after no spectators were allowed last year due to COVID protocols. Kids will undoubtedly line his gallery.

“It’s surreal. It’s odd. It makes me want to do better and show them the right way to do things,” Homa said of being a role model. “It’s really neat to know that whether I’m 5-over or 5-under, I’ve had kids come up and say ‘you’re my favorite golfer and I want to do this and this like you.’ It seems silly to me but trying to get used to it and appreciate it at the same time.”

He gets recognized more at gas stations, Homa joked.

“He’s good for the game of golf,” Greiner said. “If the golf world can know him a little more, that’d be great. He’s a really great and humble person. And he’s one helluva golfer.”

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