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J.B. Holmes wins Wells Fargo Championship, first since brain surgery

J.B. Holmes, hitting from the rough on No. 16, bogeys two of his last three holes but holds on for a one-shot victory.

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J.B. Holmes, hitting from the rough on No. 16, bogeys two of his last three holes but holds on for a one-shot victory.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — J.B. Holmes was a 3-foot putt away from winning the Wells Fargo Championship when he backed away to size up the situation.

This wasn't about pressure. He was just happy to be there.

Nearly three years removed from brain surgery, Holmes was in a far better place Sunday at Quail Hollow. His 3-foot bogey putt gave him 1-under 71 for the round and 14-under 274 for the tournament for a one-shot victory over Jim Furyk, capping a comeback from a health issue that wouldn't be classified as the garden variety in golf.

Not many other guys keep a piece of their skull in a container in their closet.

"Just enjoying the moment," said Holmes, 32. "You don't get that very often, so getting up and thanking God for letting me have the opportunity to do it. Whether I made it or not, just enjoy being there."

He made it more stressful than he needed, with two bogeys on the last three holes and an 8-foot par putt on the other. Jason Bohn had the best chance to catch Holmes, one shot behind until pulling a 4-iron into the water on the par-3 17th and making double bogey. Phil Mickelson never had a chance, missing four putts from the 4-foot range and closing with 76 to finish out of the top 10.

It was the third PGA Tour win for Holmes, and by far the sweetest.

Three years ago, he began to feel dizzy, and soon after he was diagnosed with structural defects in the cerebellum known as Chiara malformations. He had brain surgery twice. The first was to remove a piece of his skull. The second was because of an allergic reaction to the adhesive that was holding the titanium plate to the base of the skull, causing severe headaches.

If that weren't enough, he injured his left elbow from hitting too many golf balls in a rush to return. Holmes spent a year getting more cortisone shots than he cared to remember, and when he broke his ankle while roller blading for exercise last year, he used that time to have elbow surgery.

"It's been a long journey for me," Holmes said. "I've had some ups and downs. It's a great feeling to be out there and to get one done."

CHAMPIONS: Bernard Langer won the Insperity Invitational in the Woodlands, Texas, for the third time, closing with 1-under 71 for a one-stroke victory over Fred Couples. Langer finished at 11-under 205 to become the 10th 20-time winner on the 50-and-over tour.

LPGA: Stacy Lewis shot 7-under 64 to win the North Texas Shootout in Irving, finally getting a victory after six runner-up finishes in her previous 16 tournaments. Lewis finished at 16-under 268, six strokes ahead of Meena Lee. That is the largest margin of victory on the tour since Jiyai Shin won the 2012 Women's British Open by nine.

EUROPEAN PGA: Felipe Aguilar shot 28 on the back nine to win the Championship at Laguna National in Singapore. Aguilar closed with 10-under 62 to finish at 22-under 266 for a one-shot win over Anders Hansen and David Lipsky.

J.B. Holmes wins Wells Fargo Championship, first since brain surgery

05/04/14 [Last modified: Sunday, May 4, 2014 9:46pm]
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