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LA JOLLA, Calif. – J.B. Holmes, playing competitively for the first time since having brain surgery on Sept. 1, has played five holes on the South Course in 1 over.
Holmes bogeyed his first hole when he was unable to get up and down from a greenside bunker. But he’s managed to follow that up with four straight pars.
Holmes, who started having problems with vertigo at last year’s PLAYERS Championship, was diagnosed with a Chiari malformation in his brain. He actually ended up having two brain surgeries when doctors discovered he was allergic to the adhesive used in the first.
Doctors removed a small piece of his skull – which he keeps on the ledge of a window in his house – and inserted titanium mesh to provide more room for his brain, which was being pushed into his spinal cavity. He’s been hitting a full range of clubs since early December.
Click here to read more about Holmes’ recovery.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
LEMONT, Ill. -- David Toms will never be confused with J.B. Holmes or Dustin Johnson or Gary Woodland.
After all, the 44-year-old from Louisiana ranks 177th in driving distance, averaging 279 yards. That's 39.4 yards behind Holmes, who leads the TOUR, and well behind the other 23 players who top the 300-mark like Johnson and Woodland.
Toms, who is in his 19th year on the PGA TOUR, has had plenty of time to come to grips with this disparity. But he admits he would still love to find the magic potion -- or the consummate driver -- that would give him added distance off the tee.
"I chase it every week," he said candidly. "It seems like I ask for another driver every week and always go back to the same one. It's just such an advantage on the courses that we play."
Toms' wife Sonya is the voice of reason, though. She's quick to point out that Toms has had an enviable career with 13 wins, including the 2001 PGA and Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial earlier this year. He enters this week's BMW Championship ranked 20th in the FedExCup and 10th in the Presidents Cup, too.
"You try not to take golf home from the golf course, and a lot of times my wife has set me straight," Toms acknowledged. "Well, you've done plenty good with the way you've played for so long, so you're not doing yourself any justice to try to go out there and either change your golf swing or go to a longer driver or whatever. You've just got to really do the things that you do well and do them extremely well."
Just when his wife thinks she's got Toms convinced, though, he goes out and plays with Bubba Watson, who ranks second in driving distance, at the Deutsche Bank Championship. And then his son Carter starts asking what Watson does to hit the ball so far.
"I said, 'Don't worry about your swing, you need to go to the weight room,' and that's when she went off on me again," Toms said. "She's like, will you get off of that? I'm like, okay, whatever. What are you going to do?"
J.B. Holmes officially withdrew Monday from The Barclays, the first event of the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup, and will miss the next three months of competition due to a recent diagnosis of Chiari malformations, a brain condition that will require surgery on Thursday, Sept. 1.
Holmes will have surgery at The Johns Hopkins University Hospital. He is near his home in Louisville, Ky., this week for blood work and pre-op tests.
Holmes will not be replaced in the field at The Barclays. The field stands at 123 ahead of the first event; Charl Schwartzel elected to sit out the first week of the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup.
“I was really looking forward to the Playoffs this year and improving on my 34th-place finish from 2010,” said Holmes, a two-time PGA TOUR winner who was ranked No. 66 in the FedExCup heading into The Barclays. “But with a three-month recovery before I can get back to form, we decided that the sooner I can get this procedure done, the better.
“I know when people hear ‘brain surgery’ it conjures up all kinds of images, but this a relatively low-risk surgery and only takes about an hour and a half. Best of all, there’s a very high success rate in fixing the condition. It’s just such a relief to know that there’s a name for what I’ve been going through these past few months and that I have a good chance of getting back to golf and to my regular life.
“I really appreciate all the support from fans, friends and family, and I am looking forward to a full recovery for the 2012 season.”
We’re well into the afternoon wave at The Old White TPC, and no one has been able to catch Trevor Immelman, who leads after a 6-under 64.
Brendon de Jonge has a chance to at 4 under through 12 holes, but he’s been stuck on that number for about an hour.
Meanwhile, Kenny Perry, Gary Woodland, Ryuji Imada and Kyle Stanley are all sitting another stroke back at 3 under.
Speaking of Woodland and Stanley, they, along with J.B. Holmes and Steven Bowditch, are among the four players in the field this week with the best driving distance average.
Coincidence that three of those four are near the top of the leaderboard? Probably not, especially since 200 yards was added to the course for this year’s tournament. And the only one of that group who didn’t play well Thursday was Holmes, who shot 76.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Even after the cheer, J.B. Holmes wasn't sure.
"Usually when it gets that loud, you figure it went in," he said. "But still, from that distance it's hard to get that ball to go in that little hole."
Not this time. The 5-iron Holmes struck from 215 yards tracked at the pin like it had radar. A couple of hops -- he's not sure how many -- later and Holmes had the first albatross of his career.
"I saw it bounce, and then I'm guessing it kind of bounced and hit the pin and went in," Holmes said. "I don't know, I don't think the cameras were on. It would have been nice if they would have been on. I don't know what it looked like."
Holmes, who has made two aces as a pro, then followed the double eagle with a birdie at the 16th hole. He admitted he had to settle himself down before attempting that 26-footer.
"I definitely had some adrenaline going, but I had a little walk for it to wear off," Holmes said. "It was a long walk up to the green, then you get up there and then Chez (Reavie) had to play the hole, so I had a while before my next shot, so I had time to calm down. Hit a great tee shot and hit a so-so second and I hit a great putt."
Holmes finished with a 65 that moved him into the top 10 at 9 under. Granted he’ll have some ground to make up on the leaders, but the big-hitter from Kentucky has a chance to pick up the third win of his PGA TOUR career.
“It's always good to have a chance on Sunday, and it looks like I've put myself in position,” Holmes said. “… I’m still probably going to have a shot unless somebody goes really crazy on the back nine or something. But that's all you can ask for.”
No one had ever had a double eagle at Quail Hollow ... until Saturday. J.B. Holmes just pulled it off on the par-5 15th, which measures 566 yards. After a 344-yard drive, Holmes' 5-iron from 212 yards tracked right into the cup. The shot got him to 8 under, just three shots back of leader Pat Perez. Ironically, Holmes had never even eagled the hole in 14 previous tries: He'd made nine birdies and five pars.
Holmes then birdied the par-4 16th to get to 9 under.
The double eagle is the second on TOUR this year. Alex Cejka double eagled the par-5 10th in the opening round of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am on just his second shot of the tournament.
Holmes' Shot Tracker trail: