February 23, 2018, 21:39

Justin Thomas backs JB Holmes over final-hole delay at Torrey Pines

Justin Thomas backs JB Holmes over final-hole delay at Torrey Pines

Justin Thomas has expressed his support for JB Holmes as the slow-play controversy at the Farmers Insurance Open continues to promote widespread discussion.

Holmes has been heavily criticised for taking over four minutes to play his second shot to the 72nd hole on the final day at Torrey Pines, holding up playing partners Alex Noren and Ryan Palmer with all three in contention for the title.

The final threeball on Sunday also failed to complete 18 holes in less than six hours, and the tournament ran into a fifth day as five holes of a play-off between Noren and Jason Day was not enough to find a champion before darkness descended.

But ahead of this week’s Waste Management Phoenix Open, Thomas insisted he would have taken his time deliberating had he been in the same situation as Holmes, who needed an eagle to match Day’s clubhouse target of 10 under.

Holmes apologised to Noren in an interview with the Golf Channel, although he also admitted he felt too much fuss had been made of the incident.

“If I messed him up, I apologise,” Holmes said. “I don’t understand what all the big hoopla is about. I was just trying to give myself the best chance to win the tournament. I didn’t want to mess anybody up.”

Holmes has now been given public support by Thomas, who said: “I have JB’s back all day on that situation. It bothered me and I hate it for him. I’ve told him 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 on the 18th fairway and I need an eagle 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, with nobody behind him, last hole, you need a three to win the golf tournament, you need to take as long as you can.

“Obviously there’s a point and you’re not going to sit there for 10 minutes but if I’m going to wait for the right wind, I’m going to wait for the right wind, I need to make a three here.

“And then people saying they can’t believe he waited that long and laid it up in the rough. Do you think he was trying to lay it up in the rough?

“JB has got a lot better and he’s trying to get a lot better with his pace of play, but the bigger deal here is the previous 17 holes. Obviously it took a while, but that’s another thing. You get 25 mile an hour winds, you get tough pins, you get firm greens, time par goes out the window.

“That’s something that we have really tried to talk about a lot on the PGA Tour and everything like that. It was a bummer, I hate it for him, how much he’s getting bashed and ridiculed. But there was zero intention to ice Alex, that’s not what this sport’s about, and 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 being all in on what you’re doing. I honestly applaud him for waiting and making the decision until he was ready, because he was just trying to win the tournament.”

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