J.B. Holmes’ well-publicized and oft-criticized decision to take four minutes and 10 seconds to decide what shot to hit on Sunday afternoon at the Farmers Insurance Open has gotten some support from two of golf’s biggest names.
Justin Thomas, the reigning Player of the Year on the PGA Tour and the No. 4-ranked player in the world, and PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan lended a word of support to Holmes who was blasted by his fellow pros on social media on Sunday afternoon for taking so long to make a decision, which in the opinion of many, was detrimental to playing partner Alex Noren who needed a birdie on the par-5 to win the tournament outright.
— Geoff Shackelford (@GeoffShac) February 1, 2018
Thomas wasn’t in the field at Torrey Pines, but he was watching live on television as Holmes took 4 minutes, 10 seconds to play his second shot on the final hole. Speaking Wednesday in advance of the Waste Management Phoenix Open, Thomas voiced his support for Holmes despite the criticism Holmes’ has faced from other Tour pros.
“I have J.B.’s back all day on that situation,” Thomas said. “If you put me in 18 fairway and I need an eagle to win the golf tournament or to have a chance to win the golf tournament, I mean, I knew the exact position he was in, and I would do the same thing.”
Thomas ceded that Holmes’ lengthy wait was “a long time,” but he empathized with his fellow Kentucky native who was seemingly stuck in between clubs and waiting for a predictable wind. In Thomas’ view, the “bigger deal” is the variables that pushed the round to nearly 6 hours before the final threesome reached the 18th tee.
“Obviously it took a while, but that’s another thing,” Thomas said. “You get 25 mph winds, you get tough pins, you get firm greens, and time par goes out the window. And that’s something that we have really tried to talk about a lot on the Tour and everything like that. It was a bummer. I hate it for him, how much he’s been getting bashed and ridiculed.”
Thomas remains in support of action from the Tour to curb slow play, including handing out penalty shots for bad times. But he believes that the onslaught directed at Holmes is unfortunate given the larger scope of the issue and the unique variables affecting his shot decision.
“I get it, 4 minutes, 10 seconds is a long time, but nobody behind him, last hole, you need a 3 to win the golf tournament, you need to take as long as you can,” Thomas said. “I mean, obviously there’s a point you’re not going to sit there 10 minutes, but it’s like, ‘Look, if I’m going to wait for the right wind, I’m going to wait for the right wind. I need to make a three here.’”
Thomas wasn’t the only big name to come to Holmes’ defense. The commissioner of the PGA Tour, Jay Monahan, sided with Holmes’ decision to take his time on the 18th fairway two shots back and needing to make an eagle to get himself in a playoff.
Monahan played in the pro-am Wednesday at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, and he supported Holmes’ defense that his lengthy deliberation on club choice was tied to the unpredictable, swirling winds above the 18th fairway.
“As it relates to J.B., I think J.B. came out and made some comments, and I think that says it all,” Monahan said. “He was in the heat of the moment. It’s really hard to win out here. You’re trying to think through how you can get on the green in two, with that amount of wind. I think he thought it would subside quickly, and it just would subside and pick back up. And I think he said what he needed to say on that front.”
Monahan said his team examined the situation both Sunday night and again on Monday in an effort to see where they could possibly improve, but added that sometimes certain delays will be unavoidable.
“We’re always trying to get better. When you’re in a situation where your final round is taking the amount of time it took, then yeah, you have to address it. It’s not something that’s going to come overnight,” Monahan said. “Pace of play is an important issue in our game. It’s been something that garners a lot of attention inside our offices and in our discussions with our Player Advisory Council.
“We’ve put a lot into our ShotLink technology to be as intelligent as we can possibly be, but this is a sport that has more variables than any other sport. So you’re going to have outliers.”
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