Ryan Palmer ended victory drought. Now he’s eager to win at home course, ‘fifth major’

Ryan Palmer always likes playing in the Charles Schwab Challenge.

He lives in Colleyville and he and his caddie, James Edmondson, are members at Colonial Country Club. This is also the tournament his late father, Butch Palmer, enjoyed the most.

All of that adds up to this being one of the most memorable weeks of the year. It’s also one of the most stressful for Palmer.

“It’s hard at times because the pressure I put on myself and you want to play so well, and so many of my friends and family are here at Colonial Country Club,” Palmer said on Tuesday. “This is our fifth major. To have my name on that wall, I can’t imagine to tell what you it would feel like and mean. Always a special week. Very meaningful week.

“This was my dad’s favorite tournament to come to every year with his buddies, and obviously the last three years has been — hopefully one day we can look up at him being the last man standing.”

Palmer enters the event with plenty of confidence.

He found the winner’s circle again last month after a nine-year drought. Palmer acknowledged doubts had crept in whether he’d win again on the PGA Tour.

He’d won his third PGA Tour event in January 2010 at the Sony Open in Hawaii, but had gone year after year without a victory.

He had a runner-up finish in 24 starts in 2011. He had two runner-ups in 23 starts in 2014. He had another runner-up in 2015, and once again last season. In all, he had played 180 PGA Tour tournaments between 2011-18 without a win.

That changed last month.

Palmer, teamed with Jon Rahm, felt the sweet taste of victory by emerging as the top team in the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.

“It was huge,” Palmer said. “Nine years of not winning, you wonder if you’re ever going to win again. It was a special moment, having my son there to finally get to see me win and having [my wife] Jenn be there, she’s been there every step of the way. It was a special, special day.”

Now Palmer is looking to have another special, special day with home-course advantage. He’s got three top-five finishes in 15 career starts at Colonial, with a best of T3 coming in 2016.

Palmer entered the final round in 2016 within one stroke of leader (and eventual champion) Jordan Spieth, but finished four shots back.

Palmer mentioned a conversation he had with his coach, Randy Smith, earlier this week that should bode well for how he handles himself this week.

“Like Randy was telling me, just go out there and smile, talk, sign more autographs, don’t take it so serious,” Palmer said. “It’s a course you want to play good on in front of everybody. I have to take it easy on myself and just enjoy more, not expect too much and I think we’ll have some good weeks.

“My game is in good shape. Just a matter of kind of getting over myself mentally and not being so uptight and so hard on myself knowing it is Colonial. If I can do that, I think we’ll have a great week.”

Max Management

Max Homa missed six consecutive cuts earlier this season. In 2017, he played in 17 PGA Tour events and played on the weekend just twice.

But Homa had a breakthrough victory at the Wells Fargo Championship earlier this month, pulling away for a three-shot victory at Quail Hollow Golf Course in North Carolina.

That victory guaranteed him a spot in this week’s Colonial, an event he’s played just once (being cut in 2015). He describes himself as “a lot” different player this time around.

“Everybody as they get older, in this game, gets sharper at most aspects of it,” Homa said. “I think I kind of had gone through a part where I had lost my golf swing for the most part. So I became much worse there but I did become sharper in other areas and my biggest one was kind of the mental side of golf.

“I think I became very good at course management but personally, like ‘Max Management,’ figuring out how I was going to keep my emotions in check, how I was going to be mentally prepared for adversity and all these things that go along with every round of golf.”

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