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Greenbrier: In full health, Holmes back at full throttle

By Doug Smock, Staff writer
AP photo
J.B. Holmes is congratulated by his wife Sara after winning the Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte.

Fate, in the form of good health, owes J.B. Holmes in a big way. Holmes is finally getting paid back, and is running with it.

It’s been more than 15 months since he broke his left ankle rollerblading with his wife, Sara. It has been three years since he had two brain surgeries.

And now, he is feeling well, playing well and ready to tackle his fourth Greenbrier Classic. The commitment of Holmes and a few others have been announced in the past few days.

“It’s been awhile,” he said. “I’m 100 percent now, so I’m ready to go. It’s been a good year for me, so I hope I can keep playing well.”

As far as the Classic goes, his biggest splash was a third-round 60 in the inaugural 2010 event. While Stuart Appleby stole the headlines a day later with his final-round 59, Saturday was the day to score. Holmes’ 60 was followed closely by D.A. Points’ 61.

They nearly pulled off twin 59s. Holmes missed a 10-foot eagle putt on the par-5 17th, a hole Points bogeyed.

Holmes finished that year just missing the FedExCup top 30, and he started the 2011 campaign strong. He finished tied for sixth at the Players Championship but stumbled after that, even missing the Greenbrier cut. He withdrew from the PGA Championship when vertigo symptoms became too much.

His first brain surgery corrected Chiari malformations in his cerebellum. That went well, but he was allergic to the adhesive used on the titanium plate at the base of his skull. He was airlifted to Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore for another surgery.

He did well enough before his exit to keep his PGA Tour card without getting a medical extension, but that wasn’t the case in 2013. He played just six events, missing the Greenbrier, and received a major medical extension for 2014.

He has easily fulfilled terms of that extension. He cracked the top 10 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, finished tied for 11th at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans and won the Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte, N.C., in late April.

That was his first victory since 2008.

“I had been playing well, and I had everything clicking together that week, so it was good for me,” he said.

He made his first U.S. Open field since 2009, finishing tied for 17th. He will make the Washington-White Sulphur Springs swing, playing this week in the Quicken Loans Classic in Bethesda, Md.

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Tournament officials announced Tuesday the commitments of Jonathan Byrd and Jason Bohn. Byrd will have played in all five Classics, and he owns two top-25s. Bohn has three top-5s this season, but has missed the Greenbrier cut twice in a row.

Brendon de Jonge, who made the FedExCup top 30 last year, has committed for his fifth classic. That’s no surprise — as a Virginia Tech grad, the Zimbabwean native enjoys home-field advantage at Old White.

Brendan Steele also has committed after his tie for fifth at last weekend’s Travelers Championship near Hartford, Conn. Also joining the field is 2009 U.S. Open winner Lucas Glover and 2003 Masters champ Mike Weir.

On the pro-am tournament front, NASCAR driver Denny Hamlin and comedian George Lopez are slated to join the Wednesday event.

To reach Doug Smock, call 304-348-5130, e-mail to dougsmock@wvgazette.com or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.


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