The pressure and purses on the PGA Tour make the routinely long rounds somewhat understandable, but JB Holmes took taking your time to a new level on Sunday evening.
Trailing the leaders — one of which was his playing partner, Alex Noren — by two strokes on the 72nd hole, Holmes deliberated for more than four minutes over his second shot, ultimately deciding to lay up short of the water hazard that fronts the 18th green at Torrey Pines’ South Course.
Noren, who waited on Holmes, had 230 yards from the middle of the fairway and needed a birdie on the final hole to win the tournament outright. Ryan Palmer, the other member of the threesome, also needed a birdie to get into a playoff.
JB Holmes with one of the most egregious 72nd-hole icings that I can remember.
— Ryan Lavner (@RyanLavnerGC) January 28, 2018
Holmes’ deliberation received harsh and immediate blowback on social media not only from fans, but fellow PGA Tour pros as well.
Holmes was two shots out of the lead playing the final hole when he debated between several clubs before ultimately laying up and pulling his shot into the left rough. The delay came while Alex Noren stood in the 18th fairway, facing a 230-yard approach when birdie would have won the tournament in regulation.
Instead, he was forced to wait while Holmes vacillated, and Noren ultimately missed the green and made par. Golf Channel analyst Frank Nobilo clocked Holmes’ wait to play his second shot at four minutes, 10 seconds.
Holmes’ indecision came on an already slow day when the final threesome needed more than six hours to play their round on the difficult South Course, and it drew plenty of feedback on social media from some of Holmes’ fellow pros:
Most tour players aren’t slow but because of a handful of slow ones we all get a bad rep
— Daniel Berger (@DanielBerger59) January 28, 2018
Anytime today JB…????????♂️
— Luke Donald (@LukeDonald) January 28, 2018
Last group was over a hole behind, we can all blame JB…and yes the player should take responsibility for their pace of play, but if they don’t that’s why we have Tour officials – they needed to step in a while ago IMO.
— Luke Donald (@LukeDonald) January 28, 2018
1. JB needs to be fined or better yet given 2 shots
2 Needs eagle to tie. After all that lays up? Really???
3 Horrendous sportsmanship to Noren and Palmer
4 wow ????
— Mark Calcavecchia (@MarkCalc) January 28, 2018
Just to make everyone complaining about how long JB took to hit that shot on 18, 4 min and 10 sec to be exact, he could have taken 6 minutes and nothing would have been done. Last hole, last group. Something should have been said way earlier.
— InTheFlesch (@Steve_Flesch) January 29, 2018
Holmes would eventually get up-and-down for birdie to finish one shot out of the playoff. Rex Hoggard got Holmes’ side of the story after he signed his scorecard.
With 239 yards remaining for his second shot from the fairway, Holmes deliberated over his attempt for over four minutes before deciding to layup, a shot that found the left rough.
“It was between the 5-wood – I didn’t think it was going to get there – and the 3-wood would have gone back there where [Noren] was (over the green),” Holmes said. “That pin being in the bowl, I thought I had a better chance of holing out with a wedge than I did trying to chip one in.”
“Anytime today J.B.,” Luke Donald tweeted. “Last group was over a hole behind, we can all blame J.B., and yes the player should take responsibility for their pace of play, but if they don’t that’s why we have Tour officials. They needed to step in a while ago.”
Asked about the delay on the 72nd hole, Holmes was unapologetic.
“I was still trying to win. That’s part of it,” he said.
Palmer, who birdied the 72nd hole to join the playoff but was eliminated on the first extra hole, said he didn’t feel the round, which stretched nearly six hours, took longer than normal.
“I really couldn’t tell because we were always up with the group [in front of his threesome],” Palmer said. “When you get the winds and these pin placements, pace of play is going to be slow the way this course is set up.”
Palmer was also asked about how long Holmes took on the final hole.
“We talked about it when we got to the green,” Palmer answered. “He was 235 [yards] with a 5-wood and he said he didn’t like his 5-wood.”
In the end, Holmes was able to get up-and-down for his birdie to finish at 9-under par. Noren made a par and Palmer made a birdie, which got both into a three-man playoff with Jason Day. Palmer was eliminated after the first playoff hole when Day and Noren both made birdies to his par.
After five playoff holes, the darkness overwhelmed the course forcing Noren and Day to return Monday morning to complete the tournament. Here are Sunday’s highlights.
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