Pacific Palisades, California
Winner: J.B. Holmes
The Genesis Open began on Thursday and ended on Sunday, as scheduled, and J.B. Holmes, who had had only one top-10 finish so far this year, scrambled through the final round to score his first victory in nearly three years. But for a true picture of the tournament, consider that Jordan Spieth hit his opening tee shot at 7:22 a.m. Thursday, then hit it again seven hours later, after the round was washed out by rain and restarted. Spieth went on to shoot a seven-under 64 — 12 holes of it on Thursday, the rest of it on Friday morning. And so it went. With the tournament backed up like traffic on the freeway, note that Holmes, who had a hole-in-one on Thursday, had to play 34 holes on Sunday, when he filled in a card of 63-69-68-70 for a 14-under 270 and a one-stroke win over Justin Thomas. Holmes not only had to play 34 holes, he started the final round trailing Thomas by four shots, and the greens were getting pounded from by all that traffic, and then the wind came up.
“I knew it was going to be very difficult to shoot a low score,” said Holmes, facing that four-shot deficit. “I needed some help from Justin.” Holmes got more than help from Thomas. He got a gift. As Thomas said of his stumbles down the final round, “It’s always a bummer to hand him a tournament. I should have won the thing.” Shoulda-woulda — the language of golf.
Holmes and Thomas both birdied No. 1 to start the final round. And then Thomas, who had shot a powerful 65 in the third round, was betrayed by his putter. He bogeyed Nos. 2, 4 and 5. Holmes crept up with a birdie at the third, and then bogeyed No. 7. Thomas, at 15 under, was leading by one into the turn. Holmes took his first lead of the week at the par-four 10th, where he birdied from five feet and Thomas bogeyed on three putts from 48. Thomas retook the lead at the 11th with a three-foot birdie while Holmes three-putted for a bogey. Then Thomas folded. At the par-four 13th, he three-putted from 65 feet, missing his bogey putt from three feet, and double-bogeyed. He then bogeyed the 14th, missing a five-footer for par.
Thomas rejected a comfortable alibi. “I definitely wouldn’t make an excuse of being tired,” he said. “I felt great out there. I think it was just more I really struggled putting in that wind out there. It was very, very difficult out there. I’m sure the scores showed that.” “It was very difficult,” Holmes said. “Especially the last few holes, with all that wind. But it was a challenge just with having to get up at 4:40 the last couple days and play 27 one day and 11 holes one day, and 33 holes one day. It was a tough week. I played great all week and luckily at the end I was able to pull it out.”