Holmes picks up the pieces

By Randall MellMay 5, 2014, 12:38 am

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – J.B. Holmes put all the broken pieces back together.

Well, almost all of them.

Three short years after undergoing a pair of brain surgeries, a year after breaking an ankle and less than a year after undergoing elbow surgery, Holmes reminds himself how blessed he is keeping that one little fragment of himself he couldn’t put back together.

Holmes keeps a tiny piece of his skull in a small specimen jar in his closet at his home in Orlando, Fla.

“I rarely look at it, I just know it’s up there,” Holmes said. “It’s been a long road.”

That little piece of skull is a powerful symbol Holmes insisted upon keeping.

“The doctor was a little taken aback when he asked for it,” says Erica, his wife.

It’s a reminder to Holmes how precious life’s opportunities are, how grateful he should be for the blessings he enjoys.

Now Holmes has another special keepsake to take home.

With a 1-under-par 71 Sunday, Holmes won the Wells Fargo Championship, becoming the first 54-hole leader to win this event since 2008.

Wells Fargo Championship: Articles, photos and videos

“I’ll put the skull [fragment] in the trophy,” Holmes cracked. “It’s been a long road, and it’s nice to get in the winner’s circle again. My game’s in a good spot. I worked really hard on it in the offseason. It’s nice to have that hard work pay off.”

Even with a bogey at the last, Holmes prevailed, finishing at 14-under 274, a shot ahead of Jim Furyk (65) and two ahead of Martin Flores (72).

It’s Holmes’ third PGA Tour title, his first since 2008, but it’s probably his most meaningful because of everything he overcame to win it.

Before making a final 3-footer to secure the victory, Holmes backed off his putt, paused and took a deep breath while gazing into the distance.

What was he thinking?

“Just enjoying the moment,” said Holmes, 32. “You don’t get that very often, so I was thanking God for letting me have the opportunity to do it, whether I made it or not, just enjoying being there.”

Erica was misty eyed recounting her husband’s journey to Sunday’s trophy.

“I’m so proud of him,” she said. “He worked so hard to get to where he is. There were times when he was going to rehab twice a day, then acupuncture, then to workouts.

“He’s so grateful to be out there now. He was so frustrated with the game. He was questioning everything about it, and having the year off really changed his perspective and made him realize how lucky he was.”

Holmes was a big deal when he came out of the University of Kentucky. He was a big-hitting power player who helped the Americans win the ’05 Walker Cup. He turned pro later that year and won the PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament. 

As a rookie, Holmes won the FBR Open in Phoenix. Two years later, he won it again, then helped the Americans win the Ryder Cup in his home state of Kentucky.

The game didn’t get easier after all of that. In fact, it got a lot harder.

Back at The Players Championship in 2011, Holmes was playing great, but he wasn’t feeling so well. After tying for sixth at the TPC Sawgrass, he told Erica something wasn’t right. She’s an emergency room nurse.

“He told me at The Players, `I feel really dizzy, I almost fell in the water,’” Erica said. “I’m thinking he has a sinus infection, or an ear infection, something’s going on.”

J.B. played while visiting doctors. His game, though, began to suffer. He hadn’t missed a cut all year in 2011, but then he missed the cut at the British Open, and he missed another in his next start at the Greenbrier Classic. Finally, he withdrew from the PGA Championship.

Erica said the search to discover the source of J.B.’s dizziness was actually more scary than the brain surgery that corrected it. J.B. was eventually diagnosed with Chiari malformations, structural defects in the cerebellum that were causing vertigo. He had surgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital late in the summer of 2011. Complications required a second surgery.

Out of golf for almost five months, Holmes made a successful return to the PGA Tour in late January 2012. He made $.1.1 million that year, finishing 82nd on the FedEx Cup points list. Holmes, though, would have more physical challenges. He broke an ankle rollerblading in March of 2013. Shortly after that, he underwent elbow surgery for pain that was bothering him before he broke his ankle. He missed nearly an entire year, making his return this year at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Holmes said having most of last year off might have been the best thing for him.

“I was in a bad spot,” Holmes said. “I was unhappy with the way things were going and that kind of gave me a break, literally, and gave me time off from golf and let me reevaluate.

“It ended up being a really good thing for me. I probably wouldn't be here if I wouldn't have broken my ankle last year.”

The broken pieces of the man are all healed now, and he’s feeling stronger than ever for it.

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Watch: Rory finds trouble, and more trouble, and more ...

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 23, 2018, 4:33 pm

Rory McIlroy was in a must-win situation against Brian Harman in order to have a chance to advance to the one-and-done portion of the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.

And, as you can see, McIlroy did not get off to an ideal start on Friday.

McIlroy lost the third, fifth and ninth holes at Austin Country Club. Harman led, 3 up, at the turn.

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Watch: Stefani makes hole-in-one, has no clue

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 23, 2018, 3:18 pm

Shawn Stefani made a hole-in-one on the par-3 17th in the second round of the Corales Puntacana Resorts and Club Championship.

However, he never saw it go in.

Stefani knew he hit a great shot, and this isn't shown in the video below, but he just questioned everyone around him if they saw the ball go into the hole.

A Golf Channel cameraman finally gave him the news and Stefani responded with an enthusiastic thumbs up.

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Trio lead Kia Classic; Davies shoots 82

By Associated PressMarch 23, 2018, 3:01 am

CARLSBAD, Calif. - Laura Davies had a nightmare round days after contending for a title at age 54, and Caroline Hedwall, Jackie Stoelting and Hee Young Park topped the Kia Classic leaderboard.

Davies shot a 10-over 82 on Thursday at rainy Aviara Golf Club - four days after tying for second behind Inbee Park in the Founders Cup, and five days after shooting a 9-under 63 in the Phoenix event.

Fighting Achilles tendon and calf problems in her left leg, Davies opened double bogey-bogey-par-bogey. She bogeyed Nos. 9, 10 and 12, had another double on 15 and bogeyed 16. The 82 was the World Golf Hall of Famer's highest score on tour since also shooting 82 in the 2013 Marathon Classic. On Monday, she jumped 208 spots to No. 155 in the world.

Hedwall, Stoelting and Park shot 66 in the final event before the major ANA Inspiration next week at Mission Hills. Ariya Jutanugarn, also coming off a second-place tie in Phoenix, was a stroke back with 2015 champion Cristie Kerr, In-Kyung Kim and Nicole Broch Larsen.

Hedwall closed her bogey-free round with birdies on the par-5 eighth and par-4 ninth. The Swede played her final 10 holes in 6 under. Players were allowed to lift, clean and place their golf balls in the fairways because of the damp conditions.

''I hit it really well and started making a couple putts in my back nine,'' Hedwall said. ''I'm really happy with how I'm playing and looking forward to the rest of the days.''

Stoelting finished with a birdie on the par-4 18th. She had seven birdies and a bogey.

''I hit a lot of fairways,'' Stoelting said. ''I don't necessarily hit if far, but keeping it in the fairway is super key this week. The rough is much thicker this year than last year.''

Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

Hee Young Park birdied the final three holes, finishing on No. 9.

''The greens are really soft,'' Park said. ''So, easier on the second shot.''

The 40-year-old Kerr had a bogey-free round.

''I like this golf course,'' Kerr said. ''I think it's a tough golf course and you can't fall asleep on any shot. I mean, it's just a really great course. The layout. The rough is high. You got to pay attention. I think that's maybe why I play a little better here than some other places.''

Jutanugarn closed with a 5-under 31 on the front nine.

''It's rain today and a little bit windy, but my irons help me a lot,'' Jutanugarn said. ''Just start to make some putts. ... It's pretty tough for me. I always feel like the course here is really hard because the greens really bumpy, and you're not going to hit far here.''

Lydia Ko and defending ANA champion So Yeon Ryu topped the group at 68.

Ko also played her final nine in 31. She missed the cut last week in the Founders Cup in Phoenix.

''I holed some really good putts on my back nine,'' Ko said. ''I didn't hit the ball fantastic, but just being able to hole some good birdie putts was key.''

She won the 2016 event at Aviara.

''This is a pretty tough golf course,'' Ko said. ''Putting is a huge key around this course where if you do miss a green, making those clutch par putts and then making those birdie opportunities that you get.''

Jennifer Song and Jeong Eun Lee also shot 68. Brooke Henderson had a 69, and Lexi Thompson a 70.

Inbee Park was at 71 with Singapore champion Michelle Wie and 2014 Kia winner Anna Nordqvist. Top-ranked Shanshan Feng had a 72, playing alongside Park. Defending champion Mirim Lee shot 74.

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With old clubs returned, Kim (and new clubs) starts strong at Kia

By Randall MellMarch 23, 2018, 1:53 am

Almost two months after her golf clubs went missing, the same clubs she used to win last year’s Ricoh Women’s British Open, In-Kyung Kim was happily reunited with them this week.

She fetched them and her golf bag two days ago at the Carlsbad, Calif., police department.

A man bought them as a used set from a sporting goods store in the area, with Kim’s LPGA I.D. still in the golf bag.

Notably, Kim celebrated with a return to the leaderboard Thursday in the first round of the Kia Classic.

Kim opened with a 5-under-par 67, though she didn’t use her newly rediscovered clubs. She stayed with the replacement set that she put together after her clubs went missing. Her Women’s British Open clubs never showed up after she got off a plane in Southern California upon her return home from the season-opening Pure Silk Bahamas Classic.

“It was really difficult at first,” Kim said of getting used to her new set of clubs. “I really worked hard, like worked a lot, went to the factory like a dozen times.”

Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

Kim said she made several visits to the factory folks, trying to get the loft and lies of her new clubs just the way she wanted, close to the configuration that helped her win the Women’s British Open.

“They were like, `I.K., are you ever happy?’” Kim said.

Actually, only five of Kim’s “lost” clubs turned up with her golf bag at that sporting goods store. Still, Kim was happy to get three wedges, two hybrids and her golf bag back.

“It’s kind of good to have a conclusion,” Kim said.

Kim can thank a “What’s in the bag?” segment with Ladies European Tour TV analyst Alison Whitaker for leading to the retrieval of her clubs. Kim explained to Whitaker how her clubs went missing during the telecast of the HSBC Women’s World Championship three weeks ago.

A golf fan in the San Diego area saw Golf Channel’s telecast of that segment.

“One of his friends bought the tour bag,” Kim said. “The other friend knew about my story, and he was like, `No, dude, that's not for selling. It's stolen.’”

Kim was delighted to meet the men who returned her clubs when she picked them up at the Carlsbad Police Department.

“Just good for me,” Kim said.