Sunday, February 17, 2019 7:13 p.m. CST
(Reuters) – J.B. Holmes won the Genesis Open by one stroke in Los Angeles on Sunday after Justin Thomas blew a four-stroke lead with winds wreaking havoc on the greens.
Thomas started the final round with a comfortable cushion at Riviera but his lead was gone after just six holes. He later putted four times at the 13th hole and had a three-putt at the next en route to a four-over-par 75.
Holmes was also buffeted by the gusty winds that swept across the course but made a couple of crucial putts, none more so than a 10-footer to save par at the 16th.
He parred the final two holes for a one-under-par 70, and his fifth career victory on the PGA Tour was sealed when Thomas failed to convert a 20-footer at the last.
Holmes, who finished at 14-under 270, one shot in front of Thomas and two clear of South Korean Kim Si-woo (66), said it must have been exciting for fans to watch.
“We wanted to put on a good show for everybody, so me and Justin thought we’d three-putt a couple of times from short distances,” Holmes joked in a greenside interview.
“It’s the way you want to win, come down the end and hit shots and make some key putts. It had to be exciting to watch.”
Thomas lamented his inability to handle the gusts on the greens and thought he had gifted the title to Holmes.
“It’s something I’ve needed to get better at and it unfortunately showed a flaw in my game,” he told reporters.
“J.B. won, he played great but it’s always a bummer to hand a tournament. I feel like I should have won that thing.”
Former world number one Thomas, who at 25 has already won nine times on the PGA Tour, said the wind was a key factor in needing four putts on the 13th, where he missed a three-footer.
“I could feel the wind coming and I got scared so I hit it harder and that’s why I missed it,” he said.
“I jammed it and that’s not the speed I hit putts at when I’m putting well. Every time I’ve missed a short putt it’s from a similar scenario. It ended up costing me the tournament.”
Holmes also had his issues on the greens, including three-putting from three feet at the 11th, but he steadied to win for the first time since 2015.
“It’s been a few years since I won so it’s a good feeling,” he said.
Tournament host Tiger Woods (72) tied for 15th, eight strokes off the pace, on a marathon day when the leaders had to complete 34 holes after bad weather backed up play on Thursday.
(Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Peter Rutherfordpeter.email@example.com; +822 3704)