By DOUG FERGUSON
AP Golf Writer
NORTH BERWICK, Scotland (AP) — Max Homa can’t get enough of links golf, especially when it comes to North Berwick.
Never mind that the four-time PGA Tour winner had to grind his way through 18 holes in the wind to make the cut in the Scottish Open. He then headed up the coast to North Berwick, a 190-year-old club along the Firth of Forth known for its fabled “Redan” hole at the par-3 15th.
“I saw the video years ago. It was of North Berwick and I was like, ‘This is the coolest golf course in the world.’ And all of a sudden it became my favorite I had never played,” Homa said Saturday, after going a mere 18 holes at The Renaissance Club with a bogey-free 66.
To listen to Homa is to wonder whether the links course on the East Lothian coast appealed to him as much as the first co-sanctioned PGA Tour event on the European tour, seen as an ideal tune-up for the British Open next week at St. Andrews.
Muirfield, regarded as the purest of the links on the Open rotation, is adjacent to The Renaissance Club. Homa was supposed to go there on Tuesday with his caddie, Joe Greiner, except they were in Ireland at the start of the week and Greiner’s clubs were delayed by more than a few days.
When he got the invitation from North Berwick, the most logical day was Friday afternoon after his second round.
“That’s what made yesterday become like a must, because I’m not having a tee time at North Berwick and Muirfield and saying ‘no’ to both,” he said. “I got North Berwick out of the way, and hopefully play Muirfield the next time we come by.”
Homa was caught in the tough side of the draw at the Scottish Open, facing 30 mph (50 kph) wind on Thursday afternoon and robust wind Friday morning. He had rounds of 71-71 to make the cut with one shot to spare, and then came 18 holes of sheer fun and no stress, though it was no less tiring.
He played with Greiner, the assistant and swing coach Mark Blackburn, and they apparently had plenty of company as people from around North Berwick came out to watch.
“The people around here I find tremendously nice, and kept doubling back and taking pictures,” he said. “You could tell the golf community around here is tight. It was a cool day.
“It was definitely one of the best golf experiences I’ve ever had.”
This isn’t the first time Homa has finished a round on the PGA Tour and then played golf for fun, except it’s usually in the California desert, it’s never a full 18 holes, and he’s driving a cart. This time he was one of the regulars, pushing a trolley that carried his clubs. That’s how the game is played on links.
Homa was asked if he had any other links on his bucket list, and he immediately thought of one.
“St. Andrews is way up there,” he said. “So I’m looking forward to next week.”
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