J.B. Holmes Wins by a Stroke at Riviera
J.B. Holmes captured the Genesis Open at 14 under on Sunday, winning $1,332,000 and a Genesis car. This is his fifth PGA TOUR title and his first since 2015.
Holmes, 36, overcame a four-shot lead by fellow Kentuckian Justin Thomas, who finished at 13 under and won $799,200; third was South Korea’s Si Woo Kim at 12 under ($503,200). Marc Leishman and Rory McIlroy tied for fourth at 11 under.
The weather was a major factor in this tournament. Thursday morning’s rainstorm stopped play at 7:30 a.m. after 10 groups had started on the course.
Conditions were considered so bad that the early-morning scores were nullified, and the tournament restarted around 1:40 p.m. that afternoon. Players who were scheduled to tee off that afternoon, were pushed back to Friday.
The first two rounds finished on Saturday, and the third round started that afternoon around 3 p.m., after the 36-hole cut and pairings were set.
As golfers finished their third round and started their fourth on Sunday, the weather suddenly changed from sunny and pleasant, to chilly with gusts of wind of up to 30 m.p.h. and became the “fourth player” on every hole.
After the tournament, Holmes told reporters, “Yeah, it was very difficult, especially the last few holes with all that wind.”
The unpredictable schedule, caused by weather, was also mentioned by players. As Holmes said, “It was a challenge just with having to get up at 4:40 a.m. the last couple days and play 27 one day and 11 holes one day and 33 holes one day. It was a tough week. Luckily at the end I was able to pull it out.”
He acknowledged that when conditions “are crappy, I do better.”
When asked if this was one of the biggest wins of his career, Holmes said “No,” citing his recovery from brain surgery. “I didn’t even know if I was going to be able to play and being able to come back and win after that was huge.”
(In August 2011, Holmes was diagnosed with Chiari malformations. After surgery, it was discovered he was allergic to the adhesive used on the titanium plate at the base of his skull. He returned to golf in January 2012.)
Justin Thomas was 17 under and leading by four at the start of the final round. He
birdied the first hole but then bogeyed three of the next four holes, while Holmes made birdie on two of his first three holes.
At the 13th hole, the putting demons stepped on the course and Thomas four-putted for a double bogey. He birdied the 16th but finished the round with two pars, when he needed a birdie to tie Holmes.
“I hit a great, great, great putt on 8 that, I mean, I don’t know how it didn’t go in,” Thomas said. “It’s going four or five inches past the hole and it lips out. Then again on 10, it’s uphill breaking toward the hole and it’s going four, five inches past and it almost 360 lip-out. That’s the thing, those putts go in when you win tournaments.”
Genesis Open host Tiger Woods told reporters, “It was a long week, early mornings, long days. We were warming up before the sun was up and we were on the golf course when the sun was down.”
Woods finished six under and tied for 15th with nine other players, including defending champ Bubba Watson.
“Somehow we got 72 holes in,” Woods said. “That was amazing with the weather. My staff and the Riviera staff, they were pushed hard, and then also we pushed the players pretty hard, too.”
About his play at the Genesis, Woods said, “I made too many mistakes on the greens. Six three-putts, I don’t think I’ve ever done that. To have that many three-putts and still shoot 6 under par. Take away those three-putts, I’m 12 under par, and if I make a few more putts, I’m right in the mix.”