5 Things: Holmes wins for first time since 2008
Sunday, May 4, 2014
More than two years removed from a pair of brain surgeries that threatened not only his golf career, but also life as he knew it, J.B. Holmes re-entered the PGA Tour winner's circle with a one-shot victory at the Wells Fargo Championship on Sunday in Charlotte, N.C.
Holmes, who has also endured a broken ankle and elbow surgery, garnered a three-shot lead before a pair of bogeys on two of his final three holes made things interesting, but ultimately secured his third career Tour win behind a 1-under 71.
Here are 5 Things to know from Sunday's final round at Quail Hollow Club:
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1. COMEBACK COMPLETE: In late 2011, J.B. Holmes had a piece of his rear skull removed, choosing to keep a portion of it as a reminder of his battle with a brain tumor.
“It reminds me how lucky I am to be where I am and have a second chance,” he told our Jeff Rude in an exclusive interview.
On Sunday, that second chance paid off in the form of an unlikely victory from a guy with just one top-10 finish in 11 PGA Tour starts coming into the week at Quail Hollow. It was his first win since the FBR Open in February 2008.
While Holmes had 23 birdies on the week, his critical par save on the par-3 17th proved to be the difference. Holmes' tee ball barely made it to the front of the green and his second shot came up nearly 9 feet short of the hole. But the University of Kentucky product spent little time over the par putt, putting it in the throat of the cup to stay two shots ahead heading to the difficult par-4 18th.
But he still made things interesting on 18, sending his tee ball into the trees, setting up a second shot in between two trees that caught a greenside bunker. His third shot left plenty to be desired, as he failed to get it onto the top tier; it funneled down the green, leaving him 40 feet to save par. His first putt failed to get to the hole, leaving Holmes with 4 feet to secure the victory. His bogey putt rattled against the back of the cup.
"It's been a long journey for me," Holmes said after securing spots in next week's Players Championship and the PGA Championship in his native Kentucky.
"I've had some ups and downs. It's a great feeling to be out there and to get one done."
Holmes' victory set off a series of congratulations tweets from some of the game's biggest stars:
- Paula Creamer (@ThePCreamer): Congrats @JBHolmesgolf on your win!!!!! Talk about perseverance and determination!!!
- Jordan Spieth (@JordanSpieth): Huge congrats to @JBHolmesgolf on an inspiring comeback for such a great humble guy!
- Graeme McDowell (@Graeme_McDowell): That win for @JBHolmesgolf personifies how much of a journey a career can be. Great to see a guy just thankful to be back. @SrixonGolf
- Greg Norman (@SharkGregNorman): @JBHolmesgolf So happy for you. Well done in your journey back to the winners circle @WellsFargoGolf @PGATOUR. Congrats
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2. A TAD TOO LATE: On a day that saw plenty of over-par rounds, Jim Furyk was a big exception to that rule, posting a 7-under 65 behind an impressive run on the back nine.
After a 3-under 33 on the front, Furyk went birdie-birdie-eagle on Nos. 13-15 to catch Holmes for the lead at 13 under. The eagle came on a dramatic, 62-foot chip-in at the par-5 15th.
But Furyk ran out of holes, playing the Green Mile – Quail Hollow's final three holes – at even par, despite a chip from behind the green on 18 that had eyes for the hole but finished 18 inches short.
The second-place finish was Furyk's best of the season and his fifth top 10 in nine tournaments. It was also Furyk's highest finish since the 2013 PGA Championship.
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3. LEFTY LOOKS LOST: Phil Mickelson entered Sunday's final round with a career average just over 69 in the final round at Quail Hollow, but this particular one didn't fall in line.
Mickelson, two shots off the lead at the start of the day, posted only one birdie against three bogeys and a double bogey in a 4-over 76 that saw him drop outside the top 10 at T-11.
Mickelson is still searching for his first top-10 performance of the PGA Tour season after his worst final round of the season – a season that has seen him break 71 only once on a Sunday.
"I had two great rounds and I had two pathetic rounds this week," Mickelson said. "The greens putted perfectly, even though I didn't."
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4. IT PAYS TO STICK AROUND: Brendon de Jonge had one of the most unique scorelines of the week: 80-62-68-69 – good enough for his first top-10 finish of the season at T-6.
Since a T-18 performance at the Humana Challenge on Jan. 19, de Jonge had finished no better than T-36 and had missed three cuts in 10 starts.
It was de Jonge's best performance since a T-6 at the Waste Management Phoenix Open in February 2013.
The native of Zimbabwe had previous success at Quail Hollow, finishing fourth in 2010.
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5. SHORT SHOTS: Rory McIlroy, the 2011 champion at the Wells Fargo, posted three birdies on the back nine to salvage a 2-under 70 to finish T-8, his fifth top-10 finish of the season. . . . 2012 champ Rickie Fowler made the cut on the number and struggled to a 74 Saturday, but managed a 5-under 67 Sunday to jump up to T-38. . . . Justin Rose, outside of a missed cut at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, has been one of the hottest players on the planet as of late, finishing fifth this week behind a second consecutive 1-under 71. He hasn't finished outside the top 15 in four of his last five starts. . . . Defending champion Derek Ernst posted a 2-over 74 to finish at T-30. . . . Martin Flores posted his best career PGA Tour finish with a solo third performance, picking up a bogey on the closing hole to fall out of a tie for second. . . . First-round leader Angel Cabrera posted back-to-back 75s on the weekend to also finish T-30.