NAPLES, Fla. — Kevin Kisner was no stranger when he was attempting to FaceTime Max Homa a month ago.
Their friendship was formed when they teamed up for the first time at the QBE Shootout a year ago. In September, they were part of the winning U.S. Presidents Cup team.
So Kisner was hoping to talk to his buddy a few weeks following the Presidents Cup.
What his new besty ghosting him?
“I was getting pissed, and I didn’t know why he wasn’t answering,” Kisner said Wednesday after the two played their pro-am round in advance of this week’s QBE Shootout at Tiburon Golf Course.
Homa finally picked up and Kisner started talking to him about a bottle of bourbon they received for being on the Presidents Cup team.
But Homa was tending to more important things. His wife, Lacey, was about to deliver the couple’s first child.
“I was like, ‘Hey, so I’m like currently watching Lacey push. How about we wait until tomorrow?’ ” Homa said.
“Oh, that’s why you haven’t answered,” Kisner said.
Homa and Kisner are back in Southwest Florida seeking to improve on their fifth-place finish in their debut as a team last year. They closed five shots behind winners Jason Kokrak and Kevin Na, who are not in this year’s field because of their association with LIV Golf.
Homa and Kisner appear as comfortable as any team could be talking about their friendship and how they complement each other on the course. Homa’s strength is his long game; Kisner is noted as one of the best putters on tour.
Homa, 32, is the highest-ranked male in the 24-person field at No. 16. Kisner, 38, is 31st world wide. And the two are from opposite ends of the country, Homa was born in Burbank, California, and played at Cal. Kisner was born in Aiken, South Carolina, and played at Georgia.
“He has much better college football team than I do,” Homa admitted.
Homa, Kisner didn’t fare so well in Hero World Challenge
In last week’s Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas, Homa finished 17th and Kisner 19th. Problem is there were 20 in the field.
“If we would have flipped the thing upside down, we would have had a pretty good team week,” Homa said.
“Would’ve been right there,” added Kisner.
During a practice round a year ago, Kisner told Homa whatever he does, “do not hit it left on 17 on your second shot.”
On alternate shot day, Kisner hit the fairway and Homa pulled his shot.
“While it’s in the air, he said, ‘I told you one thing, one thing,’” Homa said.
Homa is not pulling many shots nowadays, playing the best golf of his career while reaching his world ranking high after winning the Fortinet Championship in September. Of his five PGA Tour wins, three have come in the last 15 months.
“The ball’s going in the hole faster than a lot of the other guys some of these weeks,” Homa said. “I drove it great last year. I’ve always been a pretty good ball striker, so when I drive it well, get a lot of opportunities. And the putting really came around.”
Teaming with one of the best putters in the game can do that. Kisner was 24th on tour in total putting last season, first in putting from 3 feet (582-for-582) and 16th putting inside 10 feet.
“Obviously he’s a tremendous putter, but Kev’s kind of like the epitome of the true golfer, he’s good at every aspect of the game,” Homa said. “These young kids come in and hit it 19 miles, so it’s always nice to watch somebody kind of plot their way around a golf course.”
One of Homa’s memorable moments last season came during a tournament in which he missed the cut. It was at The Open at St. Andrews and he was grouped with Tiger Woods.
Homa was like a kid meeting his idol, posting on Twitter “Can’t believe this is real and ya it’s corny but who cares I’m playing with the freakin (GOAT).” And playing a 6.5 hour round, they had plenty of time to chat.
“We had one of those long waits on 9, Tiger came up to me, asked me how many I had won. I said ‘four,’ ” said Homa, who has one win since.
“Made a joke about flexing on him with all my wins, only 78 more to go to pass him, and he very seriously said, ‘You should have a lot more.’
“So kind of don’t brag about that one (but) that was pretty cool.”
When it comes from Tiger, take the compliment above the insult.
Chemistry key to successful team pairing in golf
Homa and Kisner were asked what makes for a successful team. Is it just pairing two elite golfers whose games complement each other? Or is there more?
Both looked at each other and had the same thought.
Tiger and Phil Mickelson in the 2004 Ryder Cup. The Nos. 2 and 4 golfers in the world rankings at the time clearly were not connected. They lost two matches.
“Definitely, there’s a chemistry,” Kisner said. “You saw Tiger and Phil in the Ryder Cup, right? They were playing the best golf of all-time, and they got smoked.”
“You’ve got to appreciate each other, appreciate each other’s game and you’ve got to want to be in each other’s company because if you don’t want to be in each other’s company, it’s a long time together.”
Except when one is about to become a father for the first time.