Holmes validates recent form with trophy in Houston

By Will GrayApril 6, 2015, 1:19 am

HUMBLE, Texas – J.B. Holmes has been knocking on the door for weeks.

First came San Diego. Then came Miami.

This time, Holmes broke the door down by bombing his way around the Golf Club of Houston, firing the low round of the day and emerging from a three-man playoff to win the Shell Houston Open.

The victory is the fourth of his career, his second in less than a year and puts a stamp on the long-hitter as one of the players to watch – both next week at the Masters and beyond.

While Holmes was unable to hold the lead last month at the WGC-Cadillac Championship, squandering a five-shot advantage over Dustin Johnson, his role was reversed in Houston. He began the day six shots behind Jordan Spieth, but was able to move to the top of the standings with an 8-under 64 that he began with five straight birdies.

“I mean, when you got it going, you keep doing what you’re doing. Don’t change anything,” Holmes said. “I thought it was going to take a low number to have a chance.”

On a day when cold rain and shifting winds made scoring difficult, the long-hitting Holmes tied a tournament record with a front-nine 29, at one point amassing a three-shot lead. After 72nd-hole putts from Spieth and Johnson Wagner forced overtime, Holmes was thrust into a familiar situation.

Two months earlier, he had lost a playoff to Jason Day at the Farmers Insurance Open, and six years ago he lost in extra time to Paul Casey at this same event. This time around, he came out on top.

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The key, he explained, was a commitment to “staying present.”

“Just focus one shot at a time,” Holmes said. “I know you say that, but really it’s that simple and that difficult.”

Holmes has been working with sports psychologist Jim Murphy for two years, and he credits their work on his mental game as the difference in his emergence this season, a campaign that now includes four top-10 finishes in his last six starts.

“Just mentally, I feel like I’ve been able to control it better, kind of let go a little bit and not get in my way as much,” he said. “Focus on the things I can control. I can go out every day and have fun. I can do my routines properly, and I can try to stay present the best I can. And those are my three goals every day.

“Whatever the score is, the score is. But if I do those three things, I consider it a successful day.”

Holmes checked off every box with his final-round effort, which was two shots clear of the rest of the field on a dreary afternoon. Longtime caddie Brandon Parsons saw that his boss was ready from the opening tee shot.

“I think that he was just comfortable,” Parsons said. “We weren’t really trying to do anything differently, we were just breathing well, staying present in the moment, and just continued that all day.”

Spieth, who began the day with a one-shot lead, quickly took notice of the round Holmes was compiling ahead of him.

“What a round of golf,” said Spieth, who was eliminated on the first extra hole. “That’s an incredible round of golf today given the conditions, the rain and mist and the course is playing longer, which doesn’t mean anything to him. I was aware.”

Holmes won when Wagner’s six-foot par putt lipped out on the second extra hole. He was quick to point out that while his 64 yielded the desired result, it wasn’t even his best round of the season – that would be his 10-under 62 last month at Trump National Doral.

Despite a number of close calls in recent weeks, most notably in Miami, Holmes has had no trouble focusing on the positives from those results while rocketing to a career-best position in the world rankings.

“Those are great weeks when I got runner-up,” he said. “Anytime you get a chance to win, I just looked at it as a great week, and I’ve got to keep getting up there and get in position to have a chance to win.”

Holmes admitted that he didn’t tee off today expecting to win, but once the opportunity arose he didn’t pass it up. Now he heads to the Masters for just the second time, and first time since 2008, with unbridled momentum.

“Just to be able to walk around that place is pretty amazing,” Holmes said. “I’m really excited to get there and play. My game is in good shape right now, and I’m looking forward to it.”

Holmes’ game has been in “good shape” for a while. The only difference now is that he has the trophy to prove it.

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Kisner doubles 18, defends not laying up

By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 6:42 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – It was only fitting that Jean Van de Velde was there working as an on-course reporter on Friday as Kevin Kisner struggled his way up Carnoustie’s 18th fairway.

Rolling along with a two-stroke lead, Kisner’s 8-iron approach shot from an awkward lie in the rough from 160 yards squirted right and bounced into Barry Burn, the winding creek where Van de Velde’s title chances at the 1999 Open Championship began to erode.

Unlike Van de Velde, who made a triple bogey-7 and lost The Open in a playoff, Kisner’s double bogey only cost him the solo lead and he still has 36 holes to make his closing miscue a distant memory. That’s probably why the 34-year-old seemed at ease with his plight.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“It just came out like a high flop shot to the right. It was weird. I don't know if it caught something or what happened,” said Kisner, who was tied with Zach Johnson and Zander Lombard at 6 under par. “You never know out of that grass. It was in a different grass than usual. It was wet, green grass instead of the brown grass. So I hadn't really played from that too much.”

Like most in this week’s field Kisner also understands that rounds on what is widely considered the most difficult major championship venue can quickly unravel even with the most innocent of mistakes.

“To play 35 holes without a double I thought was pretty good,” he said. “I've kept the ball in play, done everything I wanted to do all the way up into that hole. Just one of those things that came out completely different than we expected. I'll live with that more than chipping out and laying up from 20 feet.”

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Wind, not rain more a weekend factor at Open

By Mercer BaggsJuly 20, 2018, 6:39 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – After a half-day of rain in Round 2 of the 147th Open Championship, the weekend offers a much drier forecast.

Saturday at Carnoustie is projected to be mostly cloudy with a high of 62 degrees and only a 20 percent chance of rain.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Sunday calls for much warmer conditions, with temperatures rising upwards of 73 degrees under mostly cloudy skies.

Wind might be the only element the players have to factor in over the final 36 holes. While the winds will be relatively calm on Saturday, expected around 10-15 mph, they could increase to 25 mph in the final round.

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Van Rooyen holes putt after ball-marker ruling

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 4:50 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Erik van Rooyen was surveying his 10-footer for par, trying to get a feel for the putt, when his putter slipped out of his hand and dropped onto his ball marker.

The question, then, was whether that accident caused his coin to move.

The rules official looked at various camera angles but none showed definitively whether his coin moved. The ruling was made to continue from where his coin was now positioned, with no penalty.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

This was part of the recent rules changes, ensuring there is no penalty if the ball or ball maker is accidently moved by the player. The little-used rule drew attention in 2010, when Ian Poulter accidentally dropped his ball on his marker in Dubai and wound up losing more than $400,000 in bonus and prize money.

After the delay to sort out his ruling Friday, van Rooyen steadied himself and made the putt for par, capping a day in which he shot even-par 71 and kept himself in the mix at The Open. He was at 4-under 138, just two shots off the clubhouse lead.

“I wanted to get going and get this 10-footer to save par, but I think having maybe just a couple minutes to calm me down, and then I actually got a different read when I sat down and looked at it again,” he said. “Good putt. Happy to finish that way.”

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Lyle birdies last hole in likely his final Open start

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 4:32 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – If this was Sandy Lyle’s final Open appearance, he went out in style.

Playing on the final year of his automatic age exemption, the 60-year-old Scot buried a 30-foot birdie on the last hole. He missed the cut after shooting 9-over 151 over two rounds.

“I was very light-footed,” he said. “I was on cloud nine walking down the 18th. To make birdie was extra special.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Lyle, who also won the 1988 Masters, has missed the cut in his last eight majors, dating to 2014. He hasn’t been competitive in The Open since 1998, when he tied for 19th.

To continue playing in The Open, Lyle needed to finish in the top 10 here at Carnoustie. He’d earn a future exemption by winning the Senior British Open.

“More punishment,” he said.