Holmes takes Houston
By Torleif Sorenson on 4/6/15
The organizers of the PGA Tour's Shell Houston Open did the players a big favor this past week. Not only did they set up the Golf Club of Houston (f.k.a. Redstone GC) so that the last couple of holes were tough, but also that the course was set up to play as close to Augusta National Golf Club as they could make possible.
Remember that J.B. Holmes had to undergo brain surgery twice — the second time at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore. Since then, Holmes has won at the Wells Fargo last year, and now has a playoff victory over Jordan Spieth and Johnson Wagner as his fourth PGA Tour win.
Given that his tee-time was 99 minutes ahead of the final group, he said afterward that he was not expecting to win. But Holmes exploded out of the gate, notching birdies on the first five holes. In fact, his approach at the par-4 5th nearly dropped in for an eagle. Then Holmes had two pairs of consecutive birdies at the 7th and 8th, then at the 11th and 12th. He needed those, because his tee-shot at the par-3 16th came up short in the bunker and cost him a bogey.
2008 SHO winner Johnson Wagner sank a dramatic birdie at the 72nd hole and unleashed some celebratory fist-pumping as a result of getting into a playoff. Jordan Spieth's only hiccup of regulation play on Sunday came when his tee-shot landed in the fairway bunker fronting the water at the 6th, costing him a bogey. Otherwise, his three birdies and a long par-saver at the end got him into the ensuing playoff.
Spieth almost escaped a disastrous tee-shot, but his second wound up in the far-right greenside bunker and he made bogey, bumping him out of the playoff. Johnson Wagner found the same bunker with his approach, but a magnificent sand wedge finished within two feet of the jar for a matching par with Holmes.
Holmes triumphed on the second playoff hole thanks mostly to a tremendous approach to 11 feet, but also thanks to Johnson Wagner's par-saving putt cruelly lipping out.
John Bradley Holmes demonstrated on Sunday that he is one cool cat under pressure. His OT win gets him into the 79th Masters Tournament; can his grace under pressure help him secure his first major championship?
Or will it be Jordan Spieth? The young Texan's 2015 PGA Tour season includes a win at the off-season Hero World Challenge, a pair of T-7s at Phoenix and Pebble Beach, a T-4 in Los Angeles, a playoff victory at the Valspar, a solo second in San Antonio and a playoff loss this past weekend.
Rory McIlroy remains the prohibitive favorite at Augusta National, but counting out Spieth would be foolish.
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[ comments ]
J.B. is proving to be more than a long-hitting one hit wonder. Put me down on the impressed list.
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