By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. -- Just because J.B. Holmes is thankful just to be playing golf after undergoing brain surgery last year doesn’t mean he still doesn’t get upset with himself.
“It's still a job and it's still frustrating and you still get upset when you hit some bad shots,” Holmes said.
He didn’t have anything to be frustrated about Thursday.
Holmes closed with three straight birdies to cap a 5-under 65 in the opening round of The Greenbrier Classic, where he’s near the top of the leaderboard.
The Kentucky native, who almost certainly has an inside track to Comeback Player of the Year honors with a handful of top 25s, including a couple of top 10s, barely missed a shot at The Old White TPC.
Holmes hit 16 greens in regulation and closed in 31 with five birdies on the back nine. A couple of those birdies came from long range with Holmes sinking a 29-footer on the 11th hole and a 34-footer on the sixth.
As scary as things got for Holmes last fall when he underwent surgery to relieve pressure caused by Chiari malformations at the base of his brain -- structural defects in the cerebellum, the part of the brain that controls balance and can cause problems related to headaches, coordination, dizziness and vision -- being back out here always remained the goal.
Now he’s trying to take it a step further.
“The goal was to get out here and I got out here, and after I hit my first shot, I go okay, now you hit your first shot, now let's get competitive,” Holmes said. “So I just kept doing it in steps like that, and my game's been really good the last few weeks. Hopefully I can put four rounds together this week.”