Steady Holmes rallies to win Genesis Open

J.B. Holmes hits from the rough on the second hole course during the final round of the Genesis Open golf tournament at Riviera Country Club on Sunday, Feb. 17. Gary A. Vasquez / USA TODAY Sports
J.B. Holmes hits from the rough on the second hole course during the final round of the Genesis Open golf tournament at Riviera Country Club on Sunday, Feb. 17. Gary A. Vasquez / USA TODAY SportsGary A. Vasquez / USA TODAY Sports

PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. -- J.B. Holmes erased a 4-shot deficit going into the final round Sunday, Feb. 17, at the Genesis Open, taking advantage of Justin Thomas' pratfall to earn his fifth career PGA Tour victory.

Holmes carded a 1-under-par 70 at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif., closing the round with seven straight pars and taking the lead for good at 13 when Thomas four-putted for a double bogey. Holmes two-putted from about 70 feet out on 18, cozying the birdie putt within about 2 feet. He finished the event at 14-under 270.

"I knew it was going to be very difficult to shoot a low score," Holmes said afterward. "I needed some help from Justin."

Thomas entered the final round on a roll at 17-under, following a first-round 66 with consecutive 65s. The second 65 occurred over two days, as he returned to the course at 6:45 a.m. and played the final 16 holes of the third round.

When Thomas returned for the fourth round, he sprayed the ball all over the course, then couldn't make up for it with the short game while shooting 75. He bogeyed 2, 4 and 5, then couldn't recover on the back nine as the winds howled and denied players the low scores they routinely achieved the first three rounds.

Thomas could have forced a playoff if he had sank a 20-footer for birdie at 18, but his putt slid to the left just before reaching the cup.

"It was really tough on the back side, the wind was really blowing hard," Holmes said. "It was hard putting. It's the way you want to win, to come down to the end and be able to hit shots and make some key putts. It had to be exciting to watch."

South Korea's Si Woo Kim finished third at 12 under, thanks to a final-round 66. Australia's Marc Leishman and Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy tied for fourth at 11 under, Leishman carding a 3-under 68 and McIlroy turning in a 69.

Charles Howell III (69) placed sixth at 9 under, followed by a tie for seventh between Michael Thompson (70) and Australia's Adam Scott. After entering the fourth round tied for second with Holmes, Scott fired and fell back badly, requiring 76 shots to negotiate the course.

Tiger Woods, whose 65 in the darkness-delayed third round at least delivered him into longshot contention, couldn't follow it up with another low score. His fourth-round 72 left him back in the pack at 278.

The victory enabled Holmes to qualify for the WGC Championship in Mexico City that begins on Thursday.