PACIFIC PALISADES, Ca. — J.B. Holmes rallied from a four-shot deficit in the final round and won a marathon finish Sunday in the Genesis Open for his first victory in three years and a trip back to the Masters.
Holmes closed with a 1-under 70, and that was enough to overcome Justin Thomas, who took 19 putts on the back nine at Riviera — three of them from 8 feet when he lost the lead for good — and shot 75.
“I knew it was going to be very difficult to shoot a low score,” Holmes said. “I needed some help from Justin.”
They played 34 holes because of a seven-hour rain delay at the start of the tournament Thursday, and that wasn’t even the worst of it. The final day featured a wild shift in weather, from sunshine in the morning to complete 16 holes of the third round, brief rain when they teed off in the final round and wicked wind that made it tough to hole putts.
There were three two-shot swings on the back nine, all because of putting.
The biggest moment was on the 13th hole, when Holmes was one shot behind and made a 12-footer for par. Thomas, who had lagged his birdie putt from 65 feet to 8 feet from the cup, three-putted from there for a double bogey to fall one shot behind.
He three-putted the next hole to fall back further, made an 8-foot birdie on the 16th to get with one but couldn’t catch up.
Holmes had his problems, too. Right when he took the lead for the first time — a birdie on the par-4 10th and a three-putt bogey from long range by Thomas — Holmes turned birdie into a shocking bogey when he three-putted from 3 feet.
Thomas, who looked sharp as ever in the morning in his round of 65 to build a big lead, missed a 6-foot birdie putt that would have tied for the lead at the par-5 17th after Holmes three-putted for par from 30 feet. He had one last chance to force a playoff, but his 20-foot birdie putt broke off to the right.
“I struggled putting in the wind out there,” Thomas said. “Unfortunately, it showed a flaw in my game. It was obviously very difficult. J.B. won. He played great. It’s always a bummer to hand a tournament. I feel like I should have won that thing.”
Tiger Woods shot 65 to finish his morning third round, though he was never in range of winning. Woods closed with a 72 in the afternoon, and tied for 15th.
“I got tired,” Woods said. “I don’t know if I’m the only one, but I definitely felt it today. Wind, cold. I was at 10 (under) and I slipped four shots coming in. That’s the way it goes.”