The Upshot: Holmes' recovery now complete
May 04, 2014
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
- J.B. Holmes has fully recovered from multiple surgeries and is now a TOUR winner again. (Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE -- That piece of his skull doctors removed in 2011? Well, it's stashed on a shelf in a closet in J.B. Holmes' Orlando home.
But that big silver trophy he earned for winning the Wells Fargo Championship -- the one that signifies the completion of his comeback from two brain surgeries, one broken ankle and an elbow surgery, to boot -- is sure to get a much more prominent display.
Holmes took a one-shot lead into the final round and had lengthened it to three late Sunday afternoon with Quail Hollow's toughest stretch standing between him and victory. Turns out, he needed all of that as he played "The Green Mile," too, where a two-putt bogey from 45 feet at the 18th hole ended up sealing a 71 and a one-stroke win.
"Nobody is comfortable on those last three holes," Holmes said.
Jim Furyk was watching in the locker room after posting a 65, the day's low, which put him in the clubhouse at 13 under nearly 2 hours earlier.
"I know he was probably dying a million deaths out there but he sucked it up and made a good two-putt," said Furyk, who won the Wells Fargo Championship in 2006. "(He) made that last putt with authority and knocked it right in the middle."
The victory was the third of Holmes' career and the 500 FedExCup points he earned moved him from 83rd to No. 18 in the standings. After starting the season on a major medical extension, Holmes has job security now through the end of the 2015-16 season.
In retrospect, Holmes calls the roller-blading accident last March a "blessing in disguise." He went nearly five months without hitting balls and got to recharge his batteries even more than he had two years earlier while recuperating from brain surgery to repair the Chiari malformation that pushed part of his brain into the spinal canal.
He basically had to have the same surgery twice since the adhesive the doctors originally used caused an allergic reaction. They had to go back in and stitch him up, but at least the vertigo and throbbing headaches would be gone.
Small wonder, then, the Wells Fargo Championship felt so good.
"It's been a long road," Holmes said. "It's nice to get in the winner's circle again and my game is in a good spot, and I worked really hard on it on the offseason last year -- the whole year was my offseason, I guess -- but it's nice to have that hard work pay off."
Holmes now heads to THE PLAYERS Championship with considerable momentum. He's played in the PGA TOUR's showcase event seven times and finished 16th or better on four occasions, including a tie for sixth in 2011.
Holmes needed just eight FedExCup points to make the field -- and ended up with 492 to spare.
"I really like that tournament, I like the golf course, so it's nice," he said. "I get to go home for a day and I can drive up; it's not too far from the house. It's a good week. I enjoy going there and the TOUR does a great job.
"It's a great golf course, just ... a little different than this last three holes but exciting finishing holes there, too."
Inside the PGA TOUR
J. B. Holmes Golf Feature
READY FOR TPC SAWGRASS: A second-round 76 prevented Rory McIlroy from really mounting a charge at the Wells Fargo Championship. But he still ended up in a tie for eighth, which sends him to THE PLAYERS Championship with positive vibes.
"Yeah, my game is in good shape," he said. "It's consistent. I'm playing solid. I just feel like the last few weeks it's been one bad round a tournament that has derailed me from, you know, being right there in contention. ...
"I just need to put four good rounds together. Like, I'm putting three good rounds together at the minute; I'm not able to quite get the fourth one in. But maybe that will all change next week."
McIlroy is still working on shoring up the sight lines with his putting. But his stats at Quail Hollow were solid and consistent -- tied for 25th in driving accuracy, 15th in greens in regulation and 42nd in strokes gained-putting.
Pete Dye's Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass was something of an acquired taste for McIlroy, who celebrated his 25th birthday on Sunday. He missed the cut in his first three appearances but tied for eighth last year, opening with a 66.
"I'm driving the ball really well at the tee, which is key, around Sawgrass," McIlroy said. "I think it's just, you know, limiting the mistakes and really, for me, around Sawgrass it's about not getting frustrated and about really managing your game well and being mentally ready for the test that it presents.
"I think that's the big thing for me, so that's what I'll be doing, just preparing myself for that the next few days."
PHOTO GALLERY: Click below for our favorite images from Sunday's finale at Quail Hollow
CALL OF THE DAY: Bill Rosinski of PGA TOUR Radio on SiriusXM and PGATOUR.COM calls Martin Flores' chip-in eagle during the final round of the Wells Fargo Championship.
CONGRATULATORY TWEETS: J.B. Holmes is a popular champion among his peers. Below are just some of the Tweets to Holmes following his victory at Quail Hollow.
Huge congrats to @JBHolmesgolf on an inspiring comeback for such a great humble guy!— Jordan Spieth (@JordanSpieth) May 4, 2014
For more, follow the PGA TOUR on Twitter.
ODDS AND ENDS: J.B. Holmes is the 10th player (13 wins) in his 30s to win on TOUR this season, compared to 10 winners in their 20s (11 wins) and one over the age of 40 (John Senden). ... The victory is the 20th win by an American this season (25 events), compared to five international winners (Jason Day, Senden, Steven Bowditch, Matt Jones, Seung-Yul Noh). ... Jim Furyk was bidding to become the first multiple winner of the Wells Fargo Championship. Instead, the runner-up finish was the 2006 champion's second at Quail Hollow and his fifth top-10.
STATS: Here are this week's leaders from the Wells Fargo Championship:
Category Leader Stat Longest drive
Bud Cauley 380 yards (No. 16) Driving accuracy Heath Slocum
42 of 56 Greens in regulation Stewart Cink, Phil Mickelson
52 of 72 Most one-putts Martin Flores
39 Distance of putts made Ben Martin 360 feet, 5 inches
THEY SAID IT
"I had two great rounds and I had two pathetic rounds this week, but I really enjoyed the week." -- Phil Mickelson, whose second-round 75 and final-round 76 prevented him from notching his first top 10 of the season.
"I felt like I putted it beautifully today when I switched to a new putter, a new Odyssey that I loved, and I'm looking forward to using it here for the next couple of weeks." -- Wells Fargo Championship runner-up Jim Furyk after posting Sunday's best round (65).
"Losing leaves kind of a sour taste in your mouth but J.B. played great, you know, gotta tip my hat to him. I just didn't have it today." -- Martin Flores, who joined J.B. Holmes in Sunday's final pairing.
"Anytime you play well it builds confidence. I did a lot of good things, my short game was pretty sharp this week and I made some good putts so carrying that over into a big tournament like next week is a big advantage for me." -- Jason Bohn after posting three rounds in red numbers to conclude his week in Charlotte.