In the last four tournaments on the PGA Tour, three of them have been won by Christian pros who attend the weekly PGA Tour Bible Study. They are Bubba Watson (second Masters win at Augusta, GA), Matt Kucher (RBC Heritage at Hilton Head Island, SC), and yesterday J.B. Holmes (Wells Fargo at Charlotte, NC). I can’t remember if that has ever happened.
I’m a fan of J.B. Holmes. I live in Scottsdale, Arizona, where the Waste Management Phoenix Open is played early every year at the TPC Stadium Golf Course. Until yesterday, J.B. had won a total of two PGA Tour tournaments, both here. J.B. crushes the ball even though he doesn’t look like it when he swings, and that’s how I first became of fan of his. He and Bubba Watson are usually the two longest hitters on Tour.
In 2006, the year J.B. won his first Phoenix Open (FBR Open then), my son Michael and I attended the tournament together as golf fans. When we first arrived at the course, I said, “let’s first go to practice tee and watch them hit balls.” As we were arriving there my son said, “Dad, there’s J.B. Holmes.” I said, “Who’s that?” Michael said, “he’s a new guy on Tour, and he’s the longest hitter out here.” As we arrived, J.B. was hitting his driver. When I saw him for the first time hit a driver, he hit a bad duck-hook. I said, “There’s no way that guy is the longest hitter on the Tour. He doesn’t swing that hard.” Michael said, “Just keep watchin’.” The next one J.B. hit was out of the park. I went, “Wow. I don’t see how he gets that much club head speed.” I’ve always marveled at J.B. about that ever since.
I thought J.B. was headed for stardom even though he’s not a fantastic putter. But he’s had a lot of physical injuries in recent years. In 2011, he was diagnosed with “structural defects in the cerebellum known as Chiara malformations.” Whatever that is, it sounds terrible. Doctors had to do brain surgery on him, removing a piece of his skull. Then he had an allergic reaction to the adhesive on the titanium plate insert at the base of his skull, so doctors had to do another surgery on him. During recovery from that he hit too many practice balls getting ready to return to the Tour and it caused an elbow injury. Then he had to have surgery for that. After that he broke his ankle.
Because of all of these troubles, J.B.’s exemption was about to run out. That’s usually the career death knell for PGA Touring pros, when they lose their exempt status. But J.B. won enough money the week prior to his win last week to avoid having to resort to a medical extension to stay exempt a few weeks. I think the Tour only allows one medical extension, though that may depend on how much time it is.
In the televised winner’s presentation yesterday, J.B. thanked his “Lord and Savior,” referring to Jesus. He had good reason to. Just trying to keep your spirits up while going through all of that would be tough. It was looking as though his career was coming to an end, and now this turn-around. That would have been tragic for a guy with his talent.
So, great going J.B.! But also Matt Kucher and Bubba Watson. There’s a lot to celebrate in the PGA Tour Bible Study these days.