Max Homa representing UC Berkeley at the 2013 NCAA Championships where he won the individual title.
(Photo/Todd Drexler-SE Sports Media)
Max Homa representing UC Berkeley at the 2013 NCAA Championships where he won the individual title. (Photo/Todd Drexler-SE Sports Media)

Jewish golfer Max Homa, Berkeley alum, enters world top 30 after tourney win 

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Jewish golfer and UC Berkeley graduate Max Homa won his fourth PGA Tour event Sunday, which moved him up to No. 29 in the world rankings — his first time in the top 30 in his nine-year professional career.

The 31-year-old Burbank native won $1.62 million by shooting 8-under par, putting him two strokes ahead of a trio of golfers at 6-under and four shots ahead of four-time major champion Rory McIlroy, the seventh-ranked player in the world. Homa has now won two of the last three Wells Fargo Championships, this year played on a course outside of Washington, D.C., for the first time.

Though Homa attended six years of Hebrew school and had a bar mitzvah, he says he’s not religious. One of his tweets from 2018 read in part: “The most Jewish I’ve ever felt came after looking at a home with extravagant Christmas lights and immediately thinking ‘that electric bill must be brutal.’”

At Cal, where he earned a degree in interdisciplinary studies, Homa became the only Golden Bear in history to place in the top 10 at both an NCAA championship and an NCAA regional in a single season. The apex of his college career was winning the individual title at the 2013 NCAA Championship, shooting 9-under par on a course in Atlanta.

Homa is among the world’s best Jewish golfers, along with 29-year-old Daniel Berger, currently ranked 23rd in the world and also a four-time PGA Tour winner (including the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in 2021).

Homa, who attended Valencia High School north of Los Angeles, also has two wins on the PGA Tour’s developmental tour; his best finish in a major was in 2021, when he tied for 40th in the Open Championship (not to be confused with the U.S. Open, for which he has failed to make the cut in two tries).

His fans know Homa for his goofy tweets and funny, humble, self-deprecating personality; for a while, he co-hosted a podcast called Get a Grip. Nowadays, his followers are more likely to view him as someone who can compete in the world’s biggest tournaments.

Of the upcoming PGA Championship in Tulsa, Oklahoma, starting May 19, Homa said in his victory press conference that he thinks he has “a good chance to win if I keep playing like this.”

Homa’s journey to the brink of stardom has not been easy. It took him six years to win his first PGA Tour tournament, and he has twice lost his PGA Tour card, which allows for automatic entrance into PGA Tour events.

“I saw $18,000 in a year out here,” he said at the press conference. “I saw feeling very, very small, having literally no hope.”

Homa’s win on Mother’s Day was extra special because his wife, Lacey Croom, is pregnant with the couple’s first child, a baby boy. That, in addition to pocketing a $1.62 million check for the victory, led Homa to graciously reflect on his current state of affairs.

“Sometimes my life feels too good to be true,” he said.

Gabe Fisher
Gabe Fisher

Gabe Fisher is a freelance journalist who served as interim editorial assistant at J. in 2022. Follow him on Twitter @ItsGabeFisher.