PGA commish, Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka weigh in on J.B. Holmes slow play
After a bizarre ending to his week at Torrey Pines, Holmes is still in the news for the wrong reason
After J.B. Holmes took 250 seconds to play his second shot on the 72nd hole at the Farmers Insurance Open last week, the former Ryder Cup player was torched on social media and in a variety of columns. The crux of the issue was that Holmes, who trailed leader Jason Day by two at the time, iced out his playing partner Alex Noren, who trailed Day by one by taking so long to play.
And then after all of that, Holmes laid up on the par-5 closing hole, noting later that he felt like he had a better chance of holing out and getting to a playoff than going for the green in two from deep in the fairway. It was a decision that, I think most can agree, certainly should not have taken over four minutes.
However, it's a story I thought would die quickly in the wake of Day's playoff win over Noren. Instead, it has somehow picked up steam and usurped the Day victory narrative.
Holmes said this week at the Waste Management Phoenix Open that he doesn't really regret the situation.
"I wouldn't do anything different," Holmes told Golf Channel. "It was a difficult shot ... There's nobody behind us, we hadn't been on the clock. ... I was just trying to win the golf tournament. I wasn't trying to mess anybody up. I wasn't trying to mess Alex up.
"I'm shocked by how big of a reaction it's been. Sorry if it ruined anybody's day. I was just trying to do the best to win the golf tournament. It's not like I took a half hour to hit the shot. This happens on Tour. It's just not always on camera."
While some players were critical of Holmes, others defended him. World No. 4 Justin Thomas spoke extensively about the incident this week in Phoenix.
"I have J.B.'s back all day on that situation," said Thomas. "It bothered me and I hate it for him. I went up to him yesterday and told him. It was a great week, first off, it was a great tournament for him, but I have a hard time saying I wouldn't do anything differently than he did. If you put me in 18 fairway and I need an eagle to win the golf tournament or to have a chance to win the golf tournament, I mean I knew the exact position he was in, and I would do the same thing.
"I get it, four minutes, 10 seconds is a long time, but nobody behind him, last hole, you need a three to win the golf tournament, you need to take as long as you can. I mean obviously there's a point you're not going to sit there 10 minutes but it's like, look, if I'm going to wait for the right wind, I'm going to wait for the right wind, I need to make a 3 here."
Both Holmes and Thomas noted that the general pace of play, including on Sunday, is an issue.
"It was a bummer, I hate it for him, how much he's getting bashed and ridiculed," added Thomas. "There was zero intention to ice Alex, that's not what this sport's about, that's not what he's about. But when you're trying to win a golf tournament, this sport is very much about committing and being a hundred percent. I honestly applaud him for waiting and making the decision until he was ready, because he was just trying to win the tournament."
The PGA Tour commissioner (!) even felt the need to weigh in.
"As it relates to J.B., I think J.B. came out and made some comments, and I think that says it all," Jay Monahan told Golf Channel. "He was in the heat of the moment. It's really hard to win out here. You're trying to think through how you can get on the green in two, with that amount of wind. I think he thought it would subside quickly, and it just would subside and pick back up. And I think he said what he needed to say on that front."
A lot of players roasted Holmes on Twitter, and Brooks Koepka spoke about the situation with For The Win.
"They need to actually penalize someone," he said. "It'll never be a big deal until someone gets penalized and loses a tournament by one and it's a big thing."
He's absolutely right about that. Pace of play is a massive issue on the PGA Tour. Day was on the course for around eight hours on Sunday, and not just because of the five playoff holes he played. It makes for a brutal viewing experience and is not very fun for fans in attendance either. Holmes' situation was a microcosm of the larger issue, certainly, but it's going to take some extreme occurrences like that to ultimately effect change.
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