DORAL, Fla. – On the surface, it would appear there’s absolutely nothing wrong with posting a 10-under 62 in the opening round of a professional golf tournament. That’s especially true when the next closest competitor is a whopping four strokes behind you and the overall scoring average is a notch above par.
But that idea underscores the reality of the situation. There actually exists one problem with going so low to kick things off.
You have to come back the next day.
And so it was for J.B. Holmes, whose opening 18 holes here at Trump National Doral were referred to by multiple players as perhaps “the round of the year,” despite the year only being a little over two months old.
Holmes returned Friday to shoot a 1-over 73 that was always going to pale in comparison.
“I've got a two‑shot lead,” he said. “Not too bad. If you had told me that at the beginning of week I would have a two‑shot lead after two rounds, I would have said, alright, sounds good.”
Following the round, Holmes was a mixture of pleased with his performance and frustrated with the redesign of the first hole – a par-5 playing 593 yards that yielded some head-scratching results.
With his first swing of the club after that 62, the big-hitting Holmes piped a drive 330 yards down the middle of the fairway. With his second shot, he went for the green with a 6-iron and thought it was perfect.
“I thought I was going to have a tap-in eagle,” he insisted.
Instead, the ball landed five feet onto the green and three feet from the left edge, only to fall all the way off to the right and into a watery grave.
“It's pretty bad that you can hit two perfect shots and the ball can go in the water because of just a ridiculous green design that's really just terrible,” he said. “The shape of the green is fine, but it's not that wide anyways. And why you would put a giant hump in the middle of it to make a ball go in the water is ... it's stupid. Golf course is hard enough. You don't have to do that.”
He didn’t stop there.
“That's a joke. I hit a 350‑yard drive and hit a 6‑iron straight up in the air. … And it goes in the water on the right side of the green. I mean, that's not hard. That's stupid. That's unfair.”
Holmes was more perturbed by the opening-hole bogey than a closing double at the treacherous 18th – a hole he simply described as “tough.”
In between, he added a handful of birdies – five of ‘em, to be exact – in a round that might have been 11 strokes from that of the previous day, but really didn’t feel that much different.
“I hit a lot of great shots,” he said. “Not much difference between this round and yesterday in my opinion. So easily could have shot 6 under today. So just shows how difficult this course is and how you can get a couple bad breaks and make some numbers.”
Holmes’ lead over Ryan Moore is two shots, but only one other player is within four strokes and just 17 total are under par in the 73-man field.
For a guy who’s never won in wire-to-wire fashion and converted just one of three previous 36-holes leads, he’s certainly in pole position entering the weekend.
Then again, Holmes also understands that not all golf can be judged on score alone.
He maintained that his mindset didn’t change after the opening 62 and won’t change after the second-round 73, either.
“If you put everything on the score, then golf's not going to be much fun, because it's difficult,” he claimed. “I was just trying to go out there and have a good time and whatever the score is, it is.”
Therein lies the best thing about posting an over-par round while owning the lead. Just as reality shows there’s always a dark cloud lingering after going low on the opening day, there’s similarly a silver lining after this type of follow-up.
You get to come back the next day.