J.B. Holmes told Golfweek on Tuesday that he plans to make his PGA Tour return at the Farmers Insurance Open Jan. 26-29 at Torrey Pines Golf Course in La Jolla, Calif. Holmes, who had brain surgery on Sept. 1, has not competed since withdrawing from the PGA Championship after a first-round 80.
Holmes has played a handful of rounds since the surgery at his home course, Isleworth Country Club in Windermere, Fla. When asked what scores he’d shot, he replied “nothing good yet.” He has yet to break 70, mainly because of struggles with distance control as he regains strength.
“My swing looks good; it’s just slower. I need to build those muscles again and get my speed back,” Holmes said. “The more I play, the stronger I get.”
His swing speed was recently measured at 114 mph, about 8 mph slower than usual. He’s hitting his tee shots about 290 yards after leading the PGA Tour in 2011 with an average drive of 318.4 yards. Holmes, who’s listed at 190 pounds, also said he’s still 10 pounds heavier than usual because of the required medications and inactivity that followed surgery. Regaining strength and losing weight are his main goals before teeing it up at Torrey Pines.
Holmes was scheduled to make his return Dec. 9-11 at the Franklin Templeton Shootout, but withdrew because of concerns about his endurance. He hopes to play about 25 events this year, including his usual West Coast schedule of Torrey Pines, Pebble Beach, Riviera and TPC Scottsdale.
Holmes’ surgery, during which doctors removed a quarter-dollar-size piece of his skull, alleviated the symptoms of Chiari malformations. The structural defects in the cerebellum, the part of the brain that controls balance, cause dizziness, headaches and vision and coordination problems.
“Everything is moving in the right direction,” his agent, Terry Reilly, said. “He has all the same goals.”
Those include a return to the Ryder Cup – Holmes represented the United States the last time the Cup was on American soil, going 2-0-1 in the U.S. victory at Valhalla in his native Kentucky – and adding to his two PGA Tour victories. Holmes, who has earned $9.5 million in six PGA Tour seasons, hasn’t won since claiming his second Tour title, the 2008 FBR Open. Unlike many long bombers, though, he has developed into a consistent contender. He was 31st on the money list in 2010, then finished in the top 15 in seven of his first 10 starts of 2011 before experiencing vertigo-like symptoms in May.