First Posted: 4/6/2015
HOUSTON (AP) — J.B. Holmes used a strong start Sunday for a Houston Open victory in a three-way playoff against Jordan Spieth and Johnson Wagner.
The 32-year-old Holmes birdied the first five holes and nine of the first 12 after starting the day six shots back of Jordan Spieth.
He had a 64, the day’s low round, and won on the second playoff hole for his fourth PGA Tour victory and the $1,188,000 check. Although Holmes’ missed birdie putt had given Wagner another chance, his short putt for par lipped out.
“I knew I had to play a really low round and I started out great,” Holmes said. “It worked out for me.”
Spieth, the hottest player on the Tour heading into the Masters, was trying to win his second playoff in three weeks, sandwiched around a runner-up finish in the Texas Open last Sunday. But he bowed out on the first playoff hole after his approach shot landed in a bunker and, lying two, he couldn’t get anywhere close to the cup on his chip.
Wagner, who got into the field only through a sponsor’s exemption, admitted being “pretty bummed” by falling short but said he was hopeful his career is pointed in the right direction again. He was trying to become only the second player to get into the Masters on the weekend before, having done it previously by winning Houston in 2008.
Holmes’ final-day rally was the biggest on the Tour since Matt Jones also came from six down to beat Matt Kuchar in a playoff last April. The Houston Open has featured more playoffs than any tournament on the circuit.
Wagner and Holmes hit perfect drives on the first playoff hole — both were on No. 18 — while Spieth almost landed in the water, then wound up buried in the sand.
“I’m not sure what happened,” he said. “I heard something or maybe it was just me. It’s not an excuse. I got down in the sand and caught it fat and didn’t give myself a chance to continue in the playoff. But it was a great Easter Sunday.”
Earlier, Spieth had seemingly shot himself out of contention with a poor approach on No. 18, the hardest hole on the course. He wound up with a steep downhill lie and a bunker to clear. However, he chipped within 11½ feet, then calmly made the putt.
Spieth was trying to become the second-youngest player after Tiger Woods to win a third PGA Tour event before his 22nd birthday. He also could have passed Jimmy Walker, who pulled out of the tournament before it began citing illness, for the current season’s points-standing lead.
Still, Spieth thinks he’s well positioned to contend this week in the Masters. He finished second to Bubba Watson last year.
“I felt very comfortable with more and more pressure going into Augusta, which has the most pressure anywhere,” he said.