By MIKE JOHNSON
J.B. Holmes needed more than a little help from Justin Thomas, but fashioned a solid one-under par 70 in blustery conditions to win the Genesis Open by a single stroke for his fifth US PGA Tour win and first in nearly four years.
A return to an old 3-wood and, perhaps most importantly, a putter switch paid off for Holmes. The Genesis champ went back to his TaylorMade M2 3-wood, which is more like a 4-wood loft at 16.5 degrees. He also used a Callaway Epic Flash Sub Zero driver, the first win for the Epic Flash line.
Despite Holmes’ penchant for the long ball off the tee, it was his putting that proved pivotal at Riviera Country Club. On the greens, Holmes ditched the Evnroll putter he used at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am for a Scotty Cameron by Titleist 009M blade and led the field in strokes gained/putting, picking up more than eight strokes on the field.
Despite the solid showing on the greens, perhaps no stroke was more important than the lag putt Holmes hit on the 72nd green from 53 feet to tap-in range to secure the win after Thomas missed one last effort from just outside 23 feet to tie.
“It’s the way you want to win,” Holmes told CBS afterwards. “You want to come down the stretch, be able to hit some shots and make some key putts. It had to be exciting to watch.”
What J.B. Holmes had in the bag at the Genesis Open:
Ball: Srixon Z-Star XV Arrow
Driver: Callaway Great Big Bertha Epic Flash Sub Zero (Fujikura Pro 2.0), 10.5 degrees
3-wood: TaylorMade M2, 16.5 degrees
Irons (3): Srixon Z U85; (4-PW): Srixon Z 785
Wedges: Cleveland RTX-4 (50, 54, 60 degrees)
Putter: Scotty Cameron by Titleist 009M