FARMINGDALE, N.Y. – With the Ryder Cup deadline in sight, J.B. Holmes picked an opportune time to break out of a mini-slump.
Holmes surged into Ryder Cup contention with top-5 finishes at both the Masters and The Open, but he missed three straight cuts after his third-place result at Royal Troon. That included an early exit last week at the Wyndham Championship, which caused Holmes to drop from No. 7 to No. 9 in the American standings.
With only the top eight players after The Barclays qualifying automatically, Holmes admitted that making the team at Hazeltine has been at the top of his mind of late.
“I mean, it’s always in your head. Definitely after the British, it was more in my head after that I guess,” Holmes said. “You’re wanting to make that all year. At the beginning of the year, that was definitely one of my main goals, to get on the Ryder Cup team hopefully. I’ve played well this year, so hopefully I’ll be able to accomplish that goal.”
Teeing it up on a burly course that suits his game, Holmes turned things around Thursday with a 4-under 67 at Bethpage Black that put him one shot off the lead. While his driver is an asset on nearly any layout, Holmes credited a lengthy session on the putting green Tuesday as the key to his low score.
“I kind of figured something out and was definitely doing something wrong, which was a relief, because I wasn’t making any putts,” he said. “We found out what it was and we just really tried to grind it in. I stayed out there for two hours and hit putts. Ended up being good for me.”
Holmes trails No. 8 Patrick Reed by less than $31,000 in the Ryder Cup race, but Reed happens to be one of only two names ahead of his on the early leaderboard. With three rounds left to jostle for position – and potentially the final automatic spot – Holmes hopes to narrow his focus to the task at hand.
“Doesn’t do me any good to watch what they are doing,” he said. “I’ve just got to go out there and do the best I can. If I watch what they are doing or look at everything else, you just add pressure on yourself that there’s no need. I’m doing the best I can, and hopefully at the end of the week that will be good enough.”