2019 Genesis Open leaderboard, grades: J.B. Holmes raises game as Justin Thomas fades late
Holmes won his fifth PGA Tour event as Thomas struggled in his fourth round on Sunday at Riviera
As far as scripts go, it wasn't a Hollywood ending, but J.B. Holmes eventually got the job done at the 2019 Genesis Open with a 1-under 70 in the final round to finish at 14 under and defeat Justin Thomas by a single stroke. Holmes trailed Thomas by four after they both played the final 16 holes of their third rounds early on Sunday morning, but Thomas shot a 75 in Round 4, which was played in the afternoon. The whole thing sounds straightforward, but it certainly was not.
Holmes made the turn down one to Thomas after J.T. shot 37 on the front side. Then Holmes took the outright lead as Thomas three-putted No. 10 and Holmes made birdie. They flipped roles on No. 11 as Holmes three-putted from 3 feet away and Thomas made birdie to take it back from him. Then Thomas four-putted (!) the 13th and three-putted (!) the 14th to give the lead back again, and he never regained it as Holmes parred his way home to the victory at Riviera and his fifth PGA Tour title.
"We wanted to put on a good show for everybody so me and Justin thought we would three-putt a couple times from some short distances," Holmes told Peter Kostis of CBS Sports. "It was really tough on the back side. The wind was blowing hard. It was hard putting. It's the way you want to win. You want to come down to the end and be able to hit shots and make some key putts. It had to be exciting to watch."
The finale coming home was befitting of the course or the event. Thomas missed a putt on No. 18 in the third round that would have set the 54-hole scoring record and looked as if he would lap the field over the final 18 holes. A ball-striker's dream of a leaderboard included him, Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, Adam Scott and Tiger Woods. But when wind and cold weather rolled in as the leaders hit the back nine during the final round, the high level of play we'd seen throughout a rain-soaked week came to a screeching halt (and not just because we were waiting for Holmes on seemingly every shot).
Every player interviewed late in the day mentioned how tough conditions were coming home, and Holmes, despite a pair of three-putts on the back nine, navigated them better than most. The scoring averages of 72.2 overall and 36.8 on the back nine were both highs for the week, but Holmes cracked one (70) by cracking the other (36). His prize was a narrow win over the No. 4 player in the world on one of the iconic courses in all of golf, even if it took a messy finish to get there. Grade: A+
Here are the rest of our grades for the 2019 Genesis Open.
Justin Thomas (2nd): The final round to me was less about what Holmes did and more about what Thomas didn't do. After torching the field with his putter over the first three days (26, 24 and 24 putts, respectively), he lost three strokes to the field on the greens in the final round and took an astonishing 34 putts over 18 holes (including seven on holes Nos. 13-14 and 19 total on the back nine). It was not what I expected from him following a nearly perfect first 54 holes. Grade: A
Rory McIlroy (T4): It shouldn't be super surprising that a place like Riviera produced a leaderboard with names like Thomas, Scott, Leishman, and of course, McIlroy. The Ulsterman was awesome from tee to green (second in the field) and actually putted it quite well (top 25). A 5-5 finish on the last two holes on Sunday when he was within striking distance was disappointing, but McIlroy said the back nine into the teeth of the wind was incredibly difficult, and it was always going to be a long shot considering he started eight back of the lead in Round 4.
My favorite McIlroy moment from the week actually came on the par-5 17th earlier on Sunday when he was cleaning up a 69 in Round 3. He had 252 yards to the hole and was holding an iron. Justin Leonard of Golf Channel said something along the lines of, This is just a lay up for McIlroy from way back as McIlroy hit it pin high just off the green. It was awesome to watch maybe the best ball-striker on the planet work cuts and draws off the spectacular holes at Riviera, even if the result was yet another close call for McIlroy. Grade: A
Tiger Woods (T15):after lighting up the world with five straight threes to start his third round. He clearly ran out of gas, but he still moved up the leaderboard late in the day as everyone wilted coming home in the wind and the cold. The conditions for that 43-year-old body, though, were not the best.
"I got tired. I don't know if I was the only one, but I definitely felt it today," Woods told CBS Sports' Dottie Pepper. "Energy dropped a little bit. Wind, cold, it was a war of attrition out there."
Still, Woods provided some spectacular moments after narrowly making the cut and delivered about as much as you can deliver without finishing in the top 10 of a golf tournament. Grade: A-
Jordan Spieth (T51): The three-time major champ can't seem to find the type of consistency that marked the first part of his career. For example, Spieth shot a 34 on the back nine of his third round on Sunday morning and opened Round 4 with a birdie at the first. His next hole resulted in a dead shank into an unplayable area and a double-bogey six, and he went on to shoot an 81 (!). And he had to par his last eight holes to do it! The next worse score in the field on Sunday was a 78.
Spieth put a 3-4-5-6-7-8 on the card in Sunday's final round, with the eight coming on the par-4 10th hole where he took seven of those strokes from 27 yards away. The entire sequence of events was astonishing.
He's got six weeks before Augusta to figure it out. Grade: C
CBS Sports was with you the entire way updating this story with the latest scores, analysis and highlights from the Genesis Open, particularly while Woods was on the course. If you are unable to view the updates below, please click here.
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