The proverbial “working vacation” is how Max Homa probably pictured his trip to South Africa upon agreeing to play in the DP World Tour’s Nedbank Golf Challenge. And the emphasis likely was on the vacation part as Homa shared pictures on social media of the safari that he and his wife took, along with fellow PGA Tour pro Justin Thomas and his spouse, ahead of this week’s tournament at Gary Player Golf Club in Sun City.

As for the idea of contending in the tournament, well, Homa, despite being ranked eighth in the world, didn’t sound like he gave himself much of a chance. The 32-year-old Californian had never played the course before and had a Tuesday practice round wiped out by rain. And then there’s the fact he hadn’t played competitive golf at all since the Ryder Cup in five weeks ago, the longest break he has taken in his professional career.

“Mildly shocking” was how he described his opening-round 66—in his typical self-deprecating style—in which he grabbed a share of the lead.

“I learned I can be uncomfortable and play well, which is cool,” Homa said after his bogey-free round. “Sometimes golfers, and myself in particular, try to feel as perfect as possible going into events, and I felt far from that. I knew it wasn’t going to be perfect, so I think I had a nice game plan and tried to settle me into feeling a little bit off out there and almost dumb it down a little.”

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