Ironically, the story of the weekend to come out of Torrey Pines didn’t have much to do with eventual winner Jason Day getting back into the winner’s circle for the first time in nearly two years, it was centered around a player who missed out on the six-hole playoff that bled into Monday morning.
J.B. Holmes, a 12-year PGA Tour veteran, has never been the poster boy for quick play, but he’s rarely drawn undue criticism for his lack of pace. The fact of the matter is that Holmes is a deliberate player in a sport full of them, but his four-minute delay on the 18th hole on Sunday at the Farmers Insurance Open may have affected the outcome of the tournament for his playing partner, Alex Noren.
I get that it’s a professional golf tour and shots are worth more than I make in a year, but people RUN A MILE faster than #JBHolmes played his approach on 18 @FarmersInsOpen today. Just ludicrous. #readygolf
— Bryan Tweed (@BryanTweed16) January 29, 2018
As Tim Rosaforte recounts in his weekly “Rosaforte Report” for GolfChannel.com, the excess time taken didn’t occur to Holmes or his caddie as they were ingratiated in the process of giving themselves the best opportunity to win.
Two days later, there is more commentary about J.B. Holmes’ slow play than there is Jason Day’s first PGA Tour victory in a year-and-a-half, which I get. Four minutes and change is way too long to hit a shot – even with the wind gusting on the 72nd hole of a tournament.
I talked to Holmes on Monday, and he told me he didn’t realize how long it was taking for him to play an approach shot into the 18th hole during Sunday’s final round of the Farmers Insurance Open. He apologized to playing partner Alex Noren but defended himself and offered explanation as to why it took so long to play the shot that lit up Twitter by his peers.
Watching the replay, it looked like Holmes had zoned out.
“I didn’t realize how long it was taking,” he said. “We (Holmes and caddie Brendan Parsons) were just trying to make the best decision to play.”
In other words, Holmes was waiting for the gusts to die down, so he could take the head cover off a 5-wood he didn’t trust, and play a shot to the green. Ultimately, he hit a good wedge shot and made birdie to finish fourth.
“If it bothered Alex, he could have said something and he could have hit,” Holmes said. “If I messed him up, I apologize. He still made a good swing. He smoked it. (Hitting 3-wood over the green and through the tunnel, next to the CBS booth.) I don’t understand what the big hoopla is all about. I was just trying to give myself the best chance to win the tournament. I didn’t want to mess anybody up.”
What messed up Holmes is that he hammered a drive, but with his cut and a crosswind, the ball ended up traveling 296 yards instead of the 330 yards he expected. This left 235 yards to carry the water, 240 to the flag. With the conditions, he felt like a career 5-wood was the play, but he lacked trust, which added to the indecision.
Ryan Palmer, the third player in the group, had already laid up with a wedge. He and caddie James Edmonson could hear the gallery get restless, but were more amused than bothered by the delay. “We kind of giggled at times,” Palmer said.
Most didn’t take it as being funny. Mark Calcavecchia called it horrendous sportsmanship to Noren and Palmer. Daniel Berger, Luke Donald, Ken Duke and Steve Elkington weighed in.
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