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Co-leader Holmes takes scenic route around Sawgrass

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PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – There’s no easy way to tackle the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass, especially when the winds are swirling as they were during the third round of The Players Championship. But the approach that J.B. Holmes took certainly qualifies as the scenic route.

Holmes started the day one shot off the lead, and he opened with a nondescript run of 10 straight pars. Things got interesting down the stretch, though, as Holmes’ final four tee shots weren’t just off the fairway – they were off the map. His drive on No. 14 sailed well right, the ones on Nos. 15 and 16 both ended on pine straw and his tee shot on the home hole bounded down the cart path.

“It was an adventurous day, for sure,” Holmes said. “It was very tough out there. Made a few shots harder than it needed to be.”

Despite the errant drives, Holmes’ bogey on No. 14 was his only dropped shot of the day en route to a 2-under 70 that gave him a share of the lead alongside Kyle Stanley heading into the final round.

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While Holmes is known for his prowess off the tee, he has only hit 17 of 42 fairways through three rounds – tied for the lowest number in the field. His savior throughout the week, but especially during the third round, has been his putter as Holmes is third this week in scrambling and leads the field in strokes gained putting by a wide margin.

Holmes was picked for last year’s Ryder Cup squad, but he hasn’t cracked the top 10 since his appearance at Hazeltine. While his best finish this year is a tie for 12th at the WGC-Mexico Championship, he started to see improvements in his game three weeks ago and remains cautiously optimistic that the tide may have turned in his favor.

“I haven’t really hit it the way I’ve wanted to this year, so it’s been frustrating for sure,” he said. “It’s definitely been nice this week to get some good bounces and see some putts go in, because the last few months hasn’t been exactly bouncing my way.”