For Holmes Stardom a Long Time in the Making

By Associated PressJanuary 6, 2007, 5:00 pm
PGA Tour (75x100)KAPALUA, Hawaii -- The image of Tiger Woods as a golf prodigy is the putt he made on the Mike Douglas show at age 2. For Phil Mickelson, it was the green his father built in their backyard for young Lefty to create shots with his short game.

J.B. Holmes' background in golf is best illustrated by his letterman's jacket from Taylor County High School in Kentucky.

'It was a red jacket, and it would have been gray if I had all my patches,' Holmes said after moving into weekend contention at the Mercedes-Benz Championship. 'Ten-year letterman. That's got to be some kind of record.'

That's right -- he spent 10 years on his high school golf team.

Holmes' first love was baseball, but that changed when he played his first junior tournament and won the first four times he teed it up. That's when his father approached the high school golf coach and asked if his son could try out for the team.

Holmes was in the third grade.

'They only had about four or five players on the team,' Holmes said. 'They said, 'Well, he has to shoot around 50 on nine holes.' So I went out there and played with the coach a little bit. I played on the team and got better.'

He was one of the top two players on the team in the fifth grade. By the eighth grade, he was hitting the ball 300 yards. He won the state title as a sophomore. And the letters and conference patches kept piling up.

'The first year was a little rough. A couple of guys picked on you, but high schoolers are just mean,' he said. 'I was a third-grader playing with high schoolers, so I learned not to get intimidated. I played the state championship through my senior year, so I was always playing with people older than me, and I was beating them.

'It didn't matter who they are. You just do your best and play your game and see what happens.'

The 24-year-old Holmes earned his ticket to Maui by winning the FBR Open in Phoenix last year with an awesome display of power, such as his 4-iron from 263 yards over the water on the par-5 15th that led to an eagle. He won so early, and did so little the rest of the year, that he became a forgotten rookie on the PGA TOUR.

Camilo Villegas drew attention for his magazine looks and his body contortions while trying to get parallel with the green when reading putts. The Colombian, however, didn't win a tournament. Rookie of the year went to Trevor Immelman of South Africa, even though he had been playing as a pro overseas for six years.

Holmes, however, was a rookie in the purest sense.

He spent four years at Kentucky, made the Walker Cup team that summer, was a medalist at Q-school in the fall to earn his card and was a winner before he could even get his feet wet on the PGA TOUR.

Then came the higher expectations, and the lack of experience. He played too many times in a row, got lonely being on his own for so long and didn't know the courses he was playing.

'I'm used to it now,' he said. 'I understand what's going on, and I've got a better feel.'

It's safe to say Holmes is a quick study.

He was an Academic All-American at Kentucky, an amazing accomplishment considering he was diagnosed with dyslexia not long after arriving on the Lexington campus.

His grades were atrocious as a freshman. However long it took Holmes to read two pages in a book, his buddies had read six. He studied hard and knew the answers on the test, but he had only 50 minutes, and could get through only half the questions.

'If you're guessing the rest of them, your grades are just not going to be that good,' he said.

The college worked with him, giving him extra time to complete tests. Holmes still had to work harder than anyone to read and learn all the material, but hard work never scared him.

'I think it helps me in golf,' he said. 'Dyslexia, you see pictures, you visualize real well. And in golf, a lot of that stuff is visualization. I picture shots really well.'

His next lesson is learning to play a full season on the PGA TOUR without wearing himself out.

The tour defines a rookie season as the year a player competes in his 10th tournament as a PGA TOUR member. That's why Immelman was eligible last year, why Todd Hamilton won the award in 2004 at age 39.

But even rookies like Eric Axley and Troy Matteson had a year or two playing the Nationwide Tour, traveling across the country, figuring out where to stay and learning new golf courses.

For Holmes, it was overwhelming at times, and it showed at the end of the year.

'I played a whole lot early, and at the end of the year I was burned out,' he said. 'That was the most golf I ever played in a single year. I'm used to play 12, 13 events a year, and I played like 27 and was gone over six months. That's a big change from being gone two months, and every time you leave you've got six of your buddies going with you.

'I didn't handle it as well as I would have liked.'

After winning in Phoenix, he didn't finish in the top 10 the rest of the year. He was sick the tail end of the year and didn't realize it until December, when he was told he had chronic tonsillitis and had his tonsils taken out. He lost weight, which he is slowly putting back on.

He is not worried about a sophomore slump.

'I'm 24,' he said. 'I think I have plenty of time to prove myself. I'm not too worried about that.'

Holmes has been proving himself his entire life, starting with his first varsity letter in the third grade.

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  • Happy Thanksgiving: Biggest turkeys of 2017

    By Grill Room TeamNovember 23, 2017, 3:00 pm

    Thanksgiving brings us golf's biggest turkeys of the year. Donald Trump, Grayson Murray and a certain (now-former) tournament director headline the list. Click here or on the image below to check out all the turkeys.

    Tributes pour in for legendary caddie Sheridan

    By Randall MellNovember 23, 2017, 2:54 pm

    Tributes are pouring in as golf celebrates the life of Greg Sheridan after receiving news of his passing.

    Sheridan, a long-time LPGA caddie who worked for some of the game’s all-time greats, including Kathy Whitworth and Beth Daniel, died Wednesday in Indian Rocks Beach, Fla., at 63. He was diagnosed in July 2016 with brain and lung cancer.

    Sheridan worked the last dozen years or so with Natalie Gulbis, who expressed her grief in an Instagram post on Wednesday:

    “Greg…I miss you so much already and it hasn’t even been a day. 15+ seasons traveling the world you carried me & my bag through the highs and lows of golf and life. You were so much more than my teammate on the course…Thank you.”

    Sheridan was on Whitworth’s bag for the last of her LPGA-record 88 titles.

    “When I first came on tour, I would try to find out how many times Greg won,” Gulbis told Golfweek. “It’s a crazy number, like 50.”

    Matthew Galloway, a caddie and friend to Sheridan, summed up Sheridan’s impressive reach after caddying with him one year at the LPGA Founders Cup, where the game’s pioneers are honored.

    “Best Greg story,” Galloway tweeted on Thanksgiving morning, “coming up 18 at PHX all the founders were in their chairs. Greg goes, `Yep, caddied for her, her and her.’ Legend.”

    In a first-person column for Golf Magazine last year, Gulbis focused on Sheridan while writing about the special bond between players and caddies. She wrote that she won the “looper lottery” when she first hired Sheridan in ’04.

    “Greg and I have traveled the world, and today he is like family,” Gulbis wrote. “Sometimes, he’s a psychologist. Last year, my mom got sick and it was a distraction, but he was great. When I used to have boyfriend issues and breakup issues, he was my confidant. In a world where caddies sometimes spill secrets, Greg has kept a respectful silence, and I can’t thank him enough for that. He’s an extension of me.”

    Four months after Gulbis wrote the column, Sheridan was diagnosed with cancer.

    “The LPGA family is saddened to hear of the loss of long-time tour caddie, Greg Sheridan,” the LPGA tweeted. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and players he walked with down the fairways. #RIP.”

    Dean Herden was among the legion of caddies saddened by the news.

    “Greg was a great guy who I respected a lot and taught me some great things over the years,” Herden texted to GolfChannel.com.

    Here are some of heartfelt messages that are rolling across Twitter:

    Retired LPGA great Annika Sorenstam:

    LPGA commissioner Mike Whan in a retweet of Gulbis:

    Golf Channel reporter and former tour player Jerry Foltz:

    Christina Kim:

    LPGA caddie Shaun Clews:

    LPGA caddie Jonny Scott:

    LPGA caddie Kevin Casas:

    LPGA pro Jennie Lee:

    Fitzpatrick one back in 2018 Euro Tour opener

    By Associated PressNovember 23, 2017, 1:37 pm

    HONG KONG – S.S.P. Chawrasia had six birdies and a bogey Thursday for a 5-under 65 and a one-stroke lead at the Hong Kong Open, the first event of the 2018 European Tour season.

    Playing in sunny but breezy conditions at the Hong Kong Golf Club, the greens had the players struggling to gauge the approach.

    ''Very tough conditions today,'' Chawrasia said. ''It's very firm greens, to be honest. I'm just trying to hit the second shot on the green and trying to make it like a two-putt.''


    Full-field scores from the UBS Hong Kong Open


    Shubhankar Sharma and Matthew Fitzpatrick (both 66) were one shot behind, while seven others were tied for fourth a further stroke behind.

    ''Hit it great tee to green,'' Fitzpatrick said. ''I think I had like seven or eight chances inside 15 feet, and on a day like today when it's so windy and such a tough golf course, with how tight it is, yeah, it was a good day.''

    Justin Rose, who won the title in 2015, shot was 2 under with five birdies and three bogeys.

    ''I think the course played a couple shots harder than it typically does,'' Rose said. ''I like this course. I think it offers plenty of birdie opportunities.''

    Masters champion Sergio GarciaRafa Cabrera Bello and defending champion Sam Brazel (69) were in a group of 16 at 1 under.

    Day, Spieth chasing Davis after Day 1 of Aussie Open

    By Jason CrookNovember 23, 2017, 6:50 am

    The PGA Tour is off this week but a couple of the circuit’s biggest stars – Jordan Spieth and Jason Day – are headlining the Emirates Australian Open, the first event in The Open Qualifying Series for the 2018 Open at Carnoustie. Here's how things look after the opening round, where Cameron Davis has opened up a two-shot lead:

    Leaderboard: Davis (-8), Taylor MacDonald (-6), Nick Cullen (-5), Day (-5), Brian Campbell (-4), Lucas Herbert (-4), Stephen Leaney (-4), Anthony Quayle (-4)

    What it means: Spieth has won this event three of the last four years, including last year, but he got off to a rocky start on Thursday. Playing in the windy afternoon wave, the world No. 2 bogeyed his first two holes but rebounded with birdies on Nos. 4 and 5. It was more of the same the rest of the way as the 24-year-old carded three more bogeys and four birdies, getting into the clubhouse with a 1-under 70. While it certainly wasn't the start he was hoping for, Spieth didn't shoot himself out of the tournament with 54 holes left to play, he has plenty of time to claw his way up the leaderboard.


    Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


    Round of the day: With Round 1 in the books, the solo leader, Davis, is the easy pick here. The 22-year-old Aussie who turned pro last year, came out of the gates on fire, birdieing six of his first seven holes, including four in a row on Nos. 4 through 7. He did drop a shot on the ninth hole to go out in 30 but rebounded with three more birdies on the back to card a 8-under 63. Davis, who was born in Sydney and played this year on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada. He will attempt to get his Web.com Tour card next month during qualifying in Arizona.

    Best of the rest: Making his first start in his home country in four years, Day started on the 10th hole at The Australian Golf Club and made four birdies to one bogey on the back side before adding four more circles after making the turn. Unfortunately for the 30-year-old, he also added an ugly double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole and had to settle for a 5-under 66, good enough to sit T-3. Day, who has dropped to No. 12 in the world rankings, is looking for his first win on any tour since the 2016 Players Championship.

    Main storyline heading into Friday: Can the upstart 22-year-old Davis hold off the star power chasing him or will he fold to the pressure of major champions in his rearview mirror? Day (afternoon) and Spieth (morning) are once again on opposite ends of the draw on Friday as they try to improve their position before the weekend.

    Shot of the day: It’s tough to beat an ace in this category, and we had one of those on Thursday from Australian Brad Shilton. Shilton’s hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole came with a special prize, a $16k watch.

    Quote of the day: “Just two bad holes. Pretty much just two bad swings for the day,” – Day, after his 66 on Thursday.