Max Homa didn’t win the Genesis Invitational on Sunday, but he tried his damnedest to do so, nearly defeating the newly minted #1 player in the world, Jon Rahm.

Losing to Rahm, who is currently on one of the strongest heaters in the modern era of golf, isn’t anything to be ashamed about. Homa is from Southern California, and has won this event before, so on the surface it wouldn’t seem like finishing solo second and taking home $2.18 million would be a disappointing week.

For many, maybe even most players, that would have been enough. If you follow Max Homa on social media or have caught his various appearances across media platforms, or even just tuned in for his very well-received mic’d up segment at Torrey Pines a few weeks ago, it’s apparent that Max Homa isn’t most players.

That should have been obvious by how Homa approached the final hole; trailing by two shots, Homa got very creative, attempting to punch through the trees to give himself a birdie putt on the final green. After that effort came up just short, Homa stayed aggressive, trying to hole out even though a miracle was required at that point. He very nearly did so.

Unlike most other sports, professional golfers are actually taking risks by pushing for wins to that degree. A bogey for Homa would have dropped him into a tie for second with Patrick Cantlay, which would have cost him nearly half a million dollars in prize money. That’s simply not a consideration NBA teams, for example, take into account when deciding to foul to extend the game late.

For Homa, though, especially at this tournament, the money was the farthest thing from his mind. We got a tremendous glimpse into what makes him both such a threat to win now and what makes him impossibly likable: he cares about it. And not in the toxic, winning is everything and life-balance doesn’t matter fashion that can also consume athletes on the other end of the scale.

Watch this clip from Homa’s post-round press conference and try not to want good things for this guy.

That level of caring is so relatable, and even aspirational. It’s the same level of humanity that made the Joel Dahmen episode of Netflix’s Full Swing so good, and it’s not a coincidence that Homa was featured heavily throughout that episode: the idea of winning not just any event (Max has six PGA Tour wins) but this specific event.

And while he’s won it before, the chance to do it with so many of his friends and family in attendance rather than during the weird twilight of the pre-vax COVID era so clearly meant the most to him. We can’t put a dollar value on it, but if we were going to, it would clearly be more than half a million.

It’s impossible not to cheer for someone like Homa, who has managed to be both the most true to himself player in the golf world while also being endlessly accessible to fans both in person and on Twitter (where he also serves as one of the few truly funny athletes.).

But it’s that little moment where he very clearly doesn’t want to be overwhelmed, smiling and acknowledging an emotional release he still can’t quite hold back, that reveals the reason why I want Max to get everything he wants from golf: because he would appreciate it, for all the right reasons.

About Jay Rigdon

Jay is a columnist at Awful Announcing. He is not a strong swimmer. He is probably talking to a dog in a silly voice at this very moment.