MARANA--Eventually J.B. Holmes is going to be reasonably content with getting to the quarterfinals of a tournament he wasn't even supposed to be in but, after being 5 up on Bubba Watson with eight holes to play, it may take a while to get there.
"It happens every year to somebody," said Holmes. "It hurts a little bit but I'll get over it." This is the second time it's happened to Holmes who was 3 up on Tiger Woods with five to play in the '08 Accenture Match Play Championship and lost when the then-No. 1 Woods went birdie-birdie-birdie-eagle to overtake him.
It began to slip away against Watson when Holmes made trips to the desert on the 11th and 13th but it was the interesting end to the match that caught everyone's attention. Still with a 1 up lead, Holmes drove it into the rough on the 18th and hit his approach short of the green in a desert bush. The ball was against a sprinkler, sort of wiry desert spritzer, from which he got relief. His drop, however, put him in a spot where his follow through would have hit yet another little black plastic spritzer. He got a re-drop but, even so, couldn't get the ball up and down, losing the hole to Watson's par.
On the first extra hole, both players found the desert. Watson had a swing at his and managed to put it up by the green. Holmes had to take an unplayable, going all the way back to an adjacent fairway. His third came up short and he lost the hole to Watson's par.
"I got lucky," said Watson. "He hit a 3-wood that went almost 400 yards and into the desert and I won 11. Then I birdied a couple of holes coming down and just caught him."
*-- Jim Moriarty