By Fred Altieri
Sports Reporter 

Holmes Wins Genesis Open at Riviera Country Club

 

February 21, 2019



It was the PGA Tour’s version of Survivor: Santa Monica Canyon. Two Kentucky gentlemen weathered two rounds on the final day of high winds and plummeting temperatures at Riviera Country Club for an intriguing finish to the 2019 Genesis Open. Ultimately, J.B. Holmes staged a comeback in the final round to hold off Justin Thomas by one stroke.

“It was very difficult, especially the last few holes with all that wind,” said Holmes. “It was the way you want to win. You want to come down the end and be able to hit shots and make some key putts. Yeah, it had to be exciting to watch.”

Holmes began the final round four strokes behind the world’s No. 4 ranked golfer, Thomas. It took Holmes only five holes to tie for the lead as Thomas bogeyed three of the first five holes. Holmes regained the lead on the tenth green and Thomas grabbed it back on the 11th. Thomas lost the lead for good when he double-bogeyed the 13th hole by four-putting the green.

“J.B. won. He played great. But it's always a bummer to hand him a tournament,” said Thomas. “I feel like I should have won that thing. Hit some great shots the last four holes. Really, the last five holes.”

The entire field struggled from playing four rounds in three days due to Thursday’s Round 1 being postponed due to rain. The increasingly strong winds dried out the course but made Sunday a very, very long walk in the park. Tournament host, Tiger Woods made the cut by only one stroke but put some fire into the crowd by going -5 through the first four holes to begin the third round on Saturday.


At one point Woods climbed up the leaderboard tied for fifth when he birdied the three of the first seven holes as he started on the back nine. He finished the tournament tied for 15th at -6, his best showing at Riviera since 2004 when he tied for 7th at -10. He had missed the cut the previous three times he teed it up at Riviera: in 2005, 2006 and 2018.

“Yeah, I got tired. I don't know if I'm the only one, but I definitely felt it today. Wind, cold. I was at 10 and I slipped four shots coming in. That's the way it goes,” said Tiger following the final round.

“I'm happy that it's over, yes. Somehow we got 72 holes in. That was amazing with the weather. My staff and the Riviera staff, they were pushed hard, and then also we pushed the players pretty hard, too. So we got it in and looks like we're going to have a pretty exciting finish.”


And it was an exciting finish as the No. 96 ranked Holmes and Thomas went neck and neck for the last three holes. Thomas birdied the Par 3, 16th hole hoping to tie for the lead, but Holmes made a clutch 11-foot putt for a sand save to retain a one-stroke lead. Thomas missed an 8-foot putt for birdie to tie the score on the Par 5, 17th hole and his 19-foot birdie attempt rolled past the hole on the 18th green.

Holmes hoisted the trophy with his wife and son to win his fifth PGA Tour event and his first since winning the 2015 Shell Houston Open. He took home $1,332,000 for the victory while Thomas earned $799,200 for second place.

“In the end, my family, my mom and dad and sister, my wife, my kid doesn't love me any more or less because I won,” said Holmes. ”It's an awesome feeling, it's what I come out here and try to do every week. Very difficult to do and it's been a few years since I won, so it's a good feeling.”

 

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