Holmes back in winner's circle with Wells Fargo win

By Doug FergusonMay 4, 2014, 10:31 pm

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – More than two years after going through brain surgery, J.B. Holmes is a winner again on the PGA Tour.

Holmes made it harder than he needed to on the final hole at Quail Hollow until rapping in a 3-foot bogey putt for a 1-under 71 and a one-shot victory over Jim Furyk in the Wells Fargo Championship. Furyk finished his Sunday-best 65 some two hours earlier.

Jason Bohn had the best chance to catch Holmes. He was one shot behind when he pulled a 4-iron into the water on the par-3 17th, making double bogey. Phil Mickelson never had a chance, missing four putts from the 4-foot range and closing with a 76 to finish out of the top 10.

The victory capped a remarkable turnaround for Holmes, who won for the third time in his career.

He was diagnosed in 2011 with structural defects in the cerebellum known as Chiara malformations, and he had surgery twice – once to remove a piece of his skull that he still keeps at home, another because of an allergic reaction to the adhesive on the titanium plate at the base of his skull.

Then, he injured his elbow by hitting too many balls in an attempt to return from the brain surgery. He didn't bother having surgery on his elbow until last year, when he was sidelined by a broken ankle and couldn't play, anyway.


Wells Fargo Championship: Articles, photos and videos


Only last week, Holmes earned enough money to keep his card for the rest of the year from a medical extension. Now, he's headed to The Players Championship next week for the richest prize in golf, and more importantly, secured a spot in the PGA Championship this summer in his native Kentucky.

''It's been a long journey for me,'' Holmes said. ''I've had some ups and downs. It's a great feeling to be out there and to get one done.''

His only other victories were in the Phoenix Open in 2006 and 2008.

Holmes made enough key putts to allow for some mistakes at the end. He ran off three birdies in a four-hole stretch around the turn, including a 30-footer on No. 11 that opened up a two-shot lead. He gouged a fairway metal out of the rough on the par-5 15th to set up a 6-foot birdie putt that stretched his lead to three shots.

Perhaps the biggest putt of all was an 8-foot par save on the 17th hole. That kept his lead at two shots, and he needed it. Instead of playing an iron off the tee, he drove into the right rough, came up well short of the green and chipped weakly to 45 feet.

Furyk was watching on TV in the locker room when Holmes knocked in the bogey putt to finish at 14-under 274.

Martin Flores, in his first time playing in the last group, fell too far back with a three-putt bogey on the 13th. He made bogey on the 18th for a 72 and was third, the best finish of his PGA Tour career. Bohn also bogeyed the 18th for a 70 to finish fourth.

Bohn received a bad time on the 16th hole – one more would have been a one-shot penalty – and said he let it get to him.

''I didn't feel comfortable with the wind starting to gust up a little bit, and I went ahead and hit it anyhow in a situation that I probably would have backed off in,'' Bohn said. ''So I'm more disappointed in myself and the way that I handled that than the golf shots that I hit.''

Still, the biggest disappointment might have been Mickelson.

He was in great shape going into the final round, two shots out of the lead, and the two players ahead of him stalled at the start. Instead, Mickelson matched his highest final round on the PGA Tour since The Barclays in 2012. And it was an old nemesis – short putting – that did him in. Mickelson three-putted from 15 feet on No. 8. He missed a 3-foot par putt on the 11th, a 4-foot birdie putt on the 14th and four-putted from 30 feet on the 16th.

''I had two great rounds and I had two pathetic rounds this week,'' Mickelson said. ''The greens putted perfectly, even though I didn't.''

The challenge came from three others, with a series of eagles that injected some drama into Quail Hollow, if only briefly.

Furyk chipped in for eagle from off the 15th green and then closed with three straight pars for a 65 to sit in the clubhouse at 13-under 275. Bohn holed out a sand wedge from 95 yards on the par-5 10th hole that disappeared into the cup on the third bounce. He also chipped in for birdie on No. 12.

Flores chipped in for eagle from short of the 10th green that allowed him to tie for the lead, but only until Holmes made a short birdie putt of his own on No. 10. Holmes ran in the long birdie putt on the next hole for a two-shot lead, and he stayed in control the rest of the way.

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Web.com Tour releases 2019 schedule, trims Finals

By Will GraySeptember 20, 2018, 1:51 pm

The Web.com Tour has officially released its full schedule for the 2019 season, a slate that will feature a Labor Day finish and only three Finals events as opposed to four.

The developmental circuit will feature 27 tournaments, the same number as this season. Things will kick off in the Bahamas for the third straight year, as two events in the islands begin a stretch of five events in as many weeks across four different countries.

The Feb. 14-17 Suncoast Classic in Lakewood Ranch, Fla., will be the first domestic event of 2019, and one of three new events to the schedule. Also added are the Evans Scholars Invitational in suburban Chicago and the TPC Colorado Championship in Berthoud, Colo.

But with the PGA Tour overhauling its schedule and dropping a FedExCup playoff event to finish ahead of football season, the Web.com schedule also features changes next year. The Web.com Tour Finals, which are used to determine the 50 players who will be promoted to the PGA Tour for the following season, will now feature only three events and follow a similar timeline.

The first Finals event will be the Aug. 15-18 Nationwide Children's Hospital Invitational in Columbus, Ohio, followed by the Albertsons Boise Open. The season will conclude Aug. 30-Sept. 2 with the Web.com Tour Championship in Atlantic Beach, Fla., one week after the PGA Tour season ends with the revamped Tour Championship in Atlanta.

The DAP Championship at Canterbury Golf Club in Beachwood, Ohio, a Finals event for each of the last three years, has been dropped from the 2019 schedule. Gone, too, are the North Mississippi Classic in Oxford and the Rust-Oleum Championship in Ivanhoe, Ill.

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Tiger Tracker: Tour Championship

By Tiger TrackerSeptember 20, 2018, 1:30 pm

Tiger Woods is looking to close his season with a win at the Tour Championship. We're tracking him this week at East Lake Golf Club.


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Inside Attica: Interviewing Valentino Dixon

By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 20, 2018, 2:00 am

By RYAN GRIFFITHS

Some stories stick with you longer than others. First time you get to do a feature. First time you meet a sports legend (it was Allen Iverson for me). Seeing a championship isn’t bad, either. Been there, done that. Lawnmower museum on the east coast of England, tsunami survivors in California, re-connecting Al Geiberger with his lost 59 tape, all good, but no story or environment has stuck with me like going to Attica Correctional Facility in 2013 to tell the story of Valentino Dixon.

For starters, I’d never been searched before setting up for an interview. Not just me, everyone - all three cameramen, Jimmy Roberts, the guy escorting us in who worked there. Everyone. Attica trusts no one. Can’t blame them after 1971, when inmates protesting living conditions took members of the prison staff hostage. The ensuing police response left 29 inmates and 10 hostages dead.

Attica has a "shank wall," a collection of homemade weapons seized from inmates and displayed like baseball cards in a plastic case on the wall outside the guards' lunchroom. Prison interior decorating at its finest. Nice touch.

We went to do a story on an inmate who was introduced to the world in a Golf Digest article by Max Adler in 2012. "The golf artist who had never stepped foot on a golf course - Valentino Dixon.: He was in for murder. Second degree. You know, your standard golf story.


Wrongfully imprisoned man freed after nearly three decades


Dixon, a former aspiring artist before getting caught up in the Buffalo drug-dealing scene, started sketching photos from Golf Digest for the warden. I’ve never been to prison, but from what I have gathered from watching The Shawshank Redemption some 8,000 times, getting in the warden’s good graces is a smart habit to pick up if you’re doing serious time.

Dixon's art was insanely good. Even more so because he did it all with colored pencils. No paintbrushes allowed (see shank wall above). Jimmy, the crew and I stopped for a good 10-15 minutes to marvel at his creations before continuing with the interview.

We spent a solid 40 minutes talking to the man who supposedly killed a man 20-something years prior. In that time, he pleaded his innocence to us over and over again. He spoke like a man who had rehearsed every angle of his story over and over and over again. I give him credit - there were no holes in his story. I consider myself a pretty good judge of character, and he didn’t look like a killer, didn’t sound like one. either. But what did I know? I’d never met one - that I know of. And if you were stuck in prison for 20-plus years and all of a sudden had a camera in front of you and a platform to plead your innocence, wouldn’t you do your best to try to get out of there?

Since the guards wouldn’t allow any food, the crew and I stopped at the first deli we saw on the ride back into Buffalo. After we were done eating, we all looked at each other, knowing what we all were thinking: "Do you think he did it?”

Didn’t matter what we thought, we were just there to tell the story. On Wednesday, however, people whose opinions mattered made a decision and allowed someone who loves the game of golf, but has never stepped foot on a golf course, to do just that if he so chooses. That's a story that will stick with him for the rest of his life.

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Wrongfully convicted inmate who turned to golf artistry freed

By Associated PressSeptember 20, 2018, 12:35 am

BUFFALO, N.Y. – A New York prison artist who never played golf but became known for drawings of lush courses he could only imagine was set free Wednesday after authorities agreed that another man committed the murder that put him behind bars for nearly three decades.

Valentino Dixon walked out of Erie County Court into bright sunshine and hugs from his mother, daughter and a crowd of other relatives and friends, ready for a meal at Red Lobster and vowing to fight on behalf of others who are wrongly convicted.

"I love y'all," Dixon shouted after trading the green prison uniform he wore in court for jeans and a T-shirt. "It feels great."

Earlier Wednesday, a judge agreed to set aside Dixon's conviction in the 1991 shooting death of 17-year-old Torriano Jackson on a Buffalo street corner and accepted a guilty plea from another man who had confessed to the killing two days after it happened.

"There was a fight. Shots were fired. I grabbed the gun from under the bench, switched it to automatic, all the bullets shot out. Unfortunately, Torriano ended up dying," Lamarr Scott, who has been in prison for 25 years for an unrelated attempted murder, told the court. "I dropped the gun and ran and it was over and done with."

Scott said he had gotten the gun, a Tec-9 semi-automatic, from Dixon and the two men had driven together to the crowded corner where the fighting broke out. Scott was given a sentence of 8 1/3 to 25 years in prison, concurrent with his current term.

Judge Susan Eagan let stand a count of criminal possession of a weapon against Dixon, and its 5- to 15-year sentence, which she said he had satisfied.


Inside Attica: Interviewing Valentino Dixon


"You are eligible for release today," the judge said, igniting applause and shouts from courtroom supporters.

"Mr. Dixon is not an innocent man. Don't be misguided in that at all," Erie County District Attorney John Flynn told reporters after the hearing. He described Dixon as "an up-and-coming drug dealer in the city of Buffalo" at the time of the shooting and said Scott was Dixon's bodyguard.

"Mr. Dixon is innocent of the shooting and of the murder for what he was found guilty of," he said, "but Mr. Dixon brought the gun to the fight. It was Mr. Dixon's gun."

While behind bars, Dixon rekindled his childhood passion for drawing, often spending 10 hours a day creating vivid colored pencil landscapes, including of golf courses, while imagining freedom. Articles in Golf Digest and elsewhere have drawn public attention to Dixon's case. NBC Sports' Jimmy Roberts spotlighted Dixon in a 2013 segment for his "In Play" series on Golf Channel.

“I’ve worked in this business for close to 40 years, and this is the most consequential thing I’ve ever been a part of," Roberts said after learning of Dixon's release. "I’m a sports reporter, but we helped get a man out of prison. I’m humbled and dumbstruck.”

Georgetown University students made a documentary as part of a prison reform course last spring. The class worked with Dixon's attorney, Donald Thompson, to have the conviction overturned.

"It went so far beyond reasonable doubt that it's pretty outrageous that he would have been convicted and it would have been upheld," said Marc Howard, director of the university's Prisons and Justice Initiative. Howard taught the course with childhood friend, Marty Tankleff, who also spent years wrongfully imprisoned.

Dixon said he will keep drawing, while working on behalf of other prisoners.

"If you don't have any money in this system, it's hard to get justice because the system is not equipped or designed to give a poor person a fair trial," he said. "So we have a lot of work ahead of us."

His daughter, Valentina Dixon, was a baby when her father went to prison. She brought her 14-month-old twins, Ava and Levi, to court from their Columbus, Ohio, home.

"We're definitely going to go shopping and go explore life," she said. "I can't wait to get him a cellphone and teach him how to Snapchat."

Dixon's mother, Barbara Dixon, said she was in shock after relying on her faith while fighting for his release.

"We're going to Red Lobster," she said when asked what was next. "And everybody's invited."