Max Homa believes Tiger Woods finally realises the respect he commands from his peers after partnering the 15-time major winner in the Open Championship.
Homa has made no secret of his admiration for Woods, using his popular Twitter account and self-deprecating humour to message the former world number one numerous times over the last decade, even asking him to be his partner in the Zurich Classic team event.
The 31-year-old American was therefore suitably thrilled when drawn to play with Woods and US Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick over the first two days at St Andrews, where a tearful Woods bade a likely competitive farewell to the Old Course, scene of two of his Open victories.
Tiger Woods, Max Homa and Matt Fitzpatrick make their way down the 1st fairway during day one of The Open at St Andrews (Jane Barlow/PA)
Woods was something of an aloof figure during the early part of his career as he single-mindedly pursued his goal of surpassing the 18 major titles won by Jack Nicklaus, but has mellowed in recent years following numerous off-course issues.
Speaking in a press conference ahead of the Rocket Mortgage Classic in Detroit, Homa – who also missed the halfway cut at St Andrews – said: “18 was the ultimate highlight, but for me as a dorky golf kid, it’s getting to chat with him that first day.
“He got off to a poor start (Woods double-bogeyed the first) and I wasn’t sure if he was going to want to chat, and he came up to me on three and started talking. That was cool.
“I feel like he couldn’t have been a better playing partner. Like I’m not going to bother him while we’re playing, I’m not going to ask him questions, but it would have still been cool to talk to him and (for him to make) that effort, I felt it was really nice of him.
Woods waves to the crowd as he goes over the Swilcan Bridge on the 18th during day two of The Open at the Old Course, St Andrews (Jane Barlow/PA)
“We had about a six-and-a-half-hour round, so we had a lot of time to talk. The thing I’ll remember the most probably was the 18th walk just because (it’s) an historic moment.
“One of those things I feel like people say ‘I’ll never forget where I was when’ and like, I was there. So I thought that was neat. And it was cool to see the fans just show him the utmost respect that he has earned.
“What I took away from it is I think he realises now how much respect we all have for him and how much he’s like meant to us and the game of golf.”
World number 20 Homa is one of 11 members of the top 50 in the field at Detroit Golf Club, with FedEx Cup champion and world number four Patrick Cantlay the top-ranked player.