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First he had two brain surgeries in 2011 to relieve pressure caused by a Chiari malformation. Later, he broke his ankle in a roller-blading accident, using the time off to undergo surgery on an elbow injury sustained in a rush to return to the course.
The UK alumnus, however, persevered. On Sunday he was rewarded with his first PGA Tour win since 2008.
Holmes shot a final-round 1-under-par 71 and finished at 14-under, one shot ahead of Jim Furyk to claim the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, N.C.
As you'd expect with a story as remarkable as this one, plenty of people are talking about Holmes. Here are a few of the best stories:
Holmes' recovery now complete (Helen Ross, PGATour.com)
Holmes overcomes setbacks for Wells Fargo win (Steve DiMeglio, USA Today)
Holmes wins first PGA Tour event since undergoing brain surgery (AP)
Holmes latest surprise champ (Bob Harig, ESPN.com)
Holmes completes ultimate comeback (Charlotte Observer)
What an awesome weekend for a great guy who has overcome such adversity in recent years. @JBHolmesgolf played with spirit & won with class.-- Oscar Combs (@wildcatnews) May 4, 2014
J.B. Holmes wins Wells Fargo for his third career PGA Tour title and first since brain surgery three years ago. What a comeback story.-- Jason Sobel (@JasonSobelGC) May 4, 2014
Thank you for all the kind words, support and thoughts! God truly has blessed me. #WellsFargoChamp-- J.B. Holmes (@JBHolmesgolf) May 5, 2014
Golfers in Central Kentucky -- not to mention the entire state or most of the United States for that matter -- will have had a hard time playing for most of the past three months. The winter has been brutal across the country, and certainly in the Lexington, Ky., area.
For a college golf team, especially one in Kentucky, snow -- in addition to cold -- can seriously hinder success on the course. Without a place to put in the work needed to hone their games before the start of college golf's spring season -- which really begins in February -- golfers run into all sorts of challenges.
And up until this season Kentucky's golf teams have had to combat those challenges, but not anymore.
In recent months the Wildcats have begun using a new all-conditions practice facility. Thus, both the men's and women's teams have a place to put in year-round work for a sport that demands constant repetitions to be great.
"Twenty-six straight days of snow has been a little bit tough for our teams, but to their credit a few years back we won a SEC Championship in men's golf and we didn't have this facility, so it can be done," Athletics director Mitch Barnhart said at the UK Golf House's official opening. "But I think this gives us the added dimension that it gives us the chance to compete in the SEC. I think it gives us a chance in this league, being the northernmost school in the league in a sport that is sunshine-driven. It's really important for us to have an opportunity to have a facility like this.
"It gives our golf teams a home, where they can put their gear and work at it on a daily basis."
Players must constantly hone their games - even when the weather is bad -- and up until recently practicing in inclement weather was a challenge for the Wildcats, but the teams' new practice facility gives them state-of-the-art solutions to the problems posed by Mother Nature, which any golfer can relate to.
Included in the new facility, located at the University Club in Lexington, are multiple covered, heated outdoor hitting bays that open out to a driving range and feature mirrors and cameras for in-depth swing analysis, as well as a large indoor putting/chipping green that would be better described as a short-game paradise in addition to beautiful, yet cozy office, lounge and locker-room spaces.
Both Brian Craig, the men's team's head coach, and Golda Borst, the women's team's head coach have been pleased with the new facility in its early stages of use.
"Mitch is right I've been kind of harassing him about this for quite a few years now. When we recruit kids that aren't in the state of Kentucky, we don't tell them what the temperatures are in January and February up here," Craig joked. "Now we have a building we can provide that's really going to give them a chance to practice and train. You can see what some of our teams have been doing, both the women's and the men's, the last month in here.
"We've been doing some great work, really productive, and the women had a really good showing their first outing, which is not easy to do in February in Kentucky. Thank you to Mitch for putting this together because it would not have happened if he didn't support golf the way that he does in supporting these young men and women."
Both the Wildcats' men's and women's teams have gotten off to strong starts in 2014, and as Craig suggested, much of that success can be attributed to their ability to practice more parts of their games when conditions prevent them from actually getting on the course.
The UK men's team has turned in six top-five finishes in as many tournaments this season, including a runner-up result at the season-opening Mobile Bay Intercollegiate in mid-February and more recently a fourth-place performance at the Querencia Cabo Collegiate.
The UK women's team also had a strong 2014 opener, placing fourth at the UCF Intercollegiate, before turning in a top-15 at last weekend's Darius Rucker Intercollegiate against one of the nation's top fields.
The women's team also has an excitement around it, and not just from the new facility. The team is began the year ranked No. 17 in Golfweek's rankings after its best fall season in years, meaning the Wildcats take plenty of momentum into the rest of the campaign.
The new practice options certainly can't hurt the forward direction of both the men's and women's teams.
Borst certainly seems optimistic.
"It's really turned out fantastic better than Brian and I could have imagined," Borst said. "To have an opportunity to have this building is huge for us especially in the SEC, it's such a strong conference for both men's and women's teams. I really want to reiterate how important this is for the future success of our teams. I think you will see a difference in how we play throughout the spring here."
Cochran lost the lead after missing a 4-foot par putt on the 16th hole but regained first after Blake bogeyed the 17th. The two parred the final hole to give Cochran the victory.
"I feel for Jay Don," Cochran said in a televised interview. "He's a great player and I feel like I dodged a bullet."
Cochran, a southpaw from Paducah, Ky., was a two-time first team All-Southeastern Conference selection (1978 and 1979) at UK. Cochran turned pro in 1979 before joining the Professional Golf Association in 1982. He became the first lefty to win at the Charity Classic.
Those expectations, though lofty and perhaps unrealistic, are yet to be realized, and the transition from links-style golf in Europe to the American game has taken longer than expected.
While Stow hoped to hit the ground running after being able to train with his teammates in the fall season, he believed his game would translate in the U.S. with a little bit of tweaking. What he found was that he was perhaps a bit overzealous in his outlook.
"It has been a little difficult because you have to hit the ball so much higher over here and chipping on the different grass you have over here is very different," said Stow. "Certainly the first three or four tournaments I played I wasn't ready for the change."
Stow says that the physical conditions of the courses have been the hardest to get used to. The differences in grass have forced him to adjust his game and change his overall approach. In England, there are harder fairways that allow low, line-drive tee shots to roll. In the rough, "meadow" grass allows for easier chipping situations around the green.
Each of those factors has played a role in keeping Stow from being the player he's used to being.
The physical game of golf hasn't been the only hindrance to Stow's success, however.
After spending a great deal of his career with swing coach Gordon Brand, Jr., Stow separated himself from his greatest golf influence. Not only that, but Brand took time off and was completely off the grid for Stow as he experienced his struggles in America.
Stow had to take this challenge on by himself.
"I was one of the best players in Europe," said Stow. "But when I came over here, I kept finishing 20th and 15th and stuff, it kind of made me step back and think, 'What am I doing differently and what do I need to improve on?' I think that process took me longer than it would have if I was at home because of the fact that I didn't have instant correspondence with my coach.
"Overall, I think it's been a really good learning experience for me because every golfer goes through a period when they're struggling and it really shows your character on how you come out on the other side of it."
After experiencing so much success as an individual on the European circuit, Stow was in for a brand-new experience at Kentucky playing golf as a member of a team for the first time in his life.
Having always focused on himself, playing for others and not having the sole attention of the coaches has been as big of a challenge as any he's faced during his time in the States. Add to that the additional amount of pressure he felt to produce and be make the instant impact his coaches and teammates were hoping for, it's no wonder why things haven't gone as planned for the English native.
"I've never played team golf like they do in the States, so that was very different," said Stow. "The fact that the coach structures everything around the team rather than the individual and everything is set up for the team. Kind of at the end of the day, you look at how the team did and not how you did. It was different.
"I did feel a little pressure to help the team along because I played very well in qualifying when I first got here and I've got pretty good world rankings, so I expected to play well."
While there were outside expectations, Stow's confidence and internal expectations were just as high when, in reality, producing under such conditions wouldn't be easy.
"For the first couple of months I was here, I thought I was going to go out and shoot 65 every time I went out, when realistically no one does that in the world," said Stow. "I'm not going to say it's been easy because it's been tough. Who likes playing bad? But I'm glad I've been through it and I definitely feel like I'm out the other side of it now because even when I'm playing badly I'm making pretty good scores."
With an NCAA Regional ahead, Stow believes he's finally ready to be the contributor this team needs him to be. He's learned from his mistakes and still managed to earn several top-20 finishes along the way. He has altered his game and is starting to understand American-style golf more than at any point during his time in the country.
Though he and his teammates have not delivered on the hopes and expectations they set for themselves at the beginning on the spring, there is still one last opportunity to make their mark when they head to Fayetteville, Ark., for regional play beginning Thursday.
"We always thought that we'd get it going and start playing better, but we never really did," said Stow. "I think since postseason, some guys have shot really well. Some of the guys have put some really good rounds together. We've spent a lot of time together, which kind of brought the team to easing up a bit. I think the morale of the team is definitely up since the end of the regular season, but I think there's still room to work on that."
Some strong early results out of the gate tomorrow could go a long way in helping the Wildcats reach their goal of Nationals with a strong finish at Blessings Golf Club in Fayetteville. With morale trending upward and Stow finally feeling ready to be the player he knows he can be, the NCAA Regional serves as the last chance for Stow and Co. to realize their preseason expectations when they tee off Thursday at 9 a.m. ET.
"I would just say to them, 'Guys, we need to do the easy stuff well. We need to do the simple stuff well,' " said Stow. "We have got the ability to play great golf on this UK golf team. We've got the ability, we just need to go out there and believe in ourselves and do the simple things well. At the end of the week, add them up, and I'm sure we'll be at the top of the leader board."
(Note: Includes student-athletes who received degrees after their completing eligibility.)
Zac Zellers (Will complete coursework this summer)
(Note: 2012 seniors Mikie Benton, Gabe Correll, Gene McCaskill, Morgan Newton, Cartier Rice, Collins Ukwu, Steven Duff and Sam Simpson graduated previously.)
Jarrod Polson (Graduated in three years)
(Note: Jamal Mashburn also received an honorary doctorate of humanities.)
Men's swimming and diving
Kara Dill (Graduate degree in exercise science)
Track and field
Ben Mason (Will complete coursework this summer)
Josh Nadzam (Masters of social work)
No graduates this weekend, but seniors Ashley Frazier and Christine Hartmann had already graduated.
Women's swimming and diving
- Kentucky continued a grueling stretch with 14-of-16 ranked opponents with a four-game week, with No. 8 Louisville earning a midweek win and No. 14 South Carolina sweeping the Wildcats in Columbia over the weekend.
- Sophomore two-way standout A.J. Reed smashed his team-high 10th homer of the year on Saturday, as a part of a 4-12 weekend at the plate.
- Junior lefty Corey Litrell tossed his seventh quality start of the year and 21st of his illustrious career on Sunday, allowing three earned runs in 7.2 innings.
- Freshman catcher George Fettes belted his first homer of his career on Saturday afternoon over the left-field wall that helped UK rally to take the lead before falling to the Gamecocks.
- The Kentucky softball team is coming off a 3-2 week where it swept a doubleheader at Middle Tennessee State before earning a win at Arkansas in a three-game set. UK defeated MTSU 7-4 in game one before a 13-1 triumph in game two.
- Home runs led UK in game two over MTSU as the Wildcats blasted five home runs to break the school record for most homers in a game. Sophomore catcher Griffin Joiner started the home run assault, blasting a leadoff shot in the second inning before junior infielder Krystal Smith hit a two-run homer later that inning. Junior pitcher/infielder Lauren Cumbess hit a two-run home run in the third inning before freshman infielder Ansley Smith hit consecutive two-run round trippers in the third and fourth innings to tie and break the school record. In all, the Wildcats posted 15 hits in the game, including three doubles and 12 RBI.
- Cumbess has been the offensive leader for UK, hitting safely in 13 of her last 14 games with an extra-base hit in nine of those 14 games. For the season, Cumbess leads the team with a .359 (56-for-156) average, including 12 doubles, 11 homers and 37 RBI. Freshman Kelsey Nunley is 20-6 on the year in the circle with a 2.08 ERA. Cumbess is second
on the team with a 3.52 ERA and a 10-5 record.
- Kentucky advanced to the quarterfinals of the 2013 SEC Tournament, knocking off No. 9 Mississippi State in the second round, 4-2.
- The Wildcats bowed out in the quarterfinals after dropping a tight match with number one overall seed, and No. 2 Georgia, 4-3. Anthony Rossi defeated No. 6 KU Singh 7-6, 6-3 in his second win of the year over a top-10 player.
- The NCAA Selection Show is Tuesday, April 30 at 5:00 p.m. ET on NCAAsports.com.
- The Kentucky women's tennis team lost 4-2 in its opening round match vs. LSU at the Southeastern Conference Tournament.
- Junior Caitlin McGraw and freshman Nadia Ravita won the No. 1 doubles match 8-0.
- Ranked 22nd, Ravita recorded another singles win, defeating Kaitlin Burns 7-5, 6-3 in the No. 1 singles slot.
- McGraw also recorded a singles win for UK, taking court four 7-5, 7-6 (3).
- The women's golf team recorded its best finish at the SEC Championships in 20 years as it placed tied for fifth, shooting 58-over-par for the tournament at the Greystone Golf and Country Club in Birmingham, Ala.
- Freshman Sarah Harris was the highlight of the tournament for the Wildcats, finishing a career-best second place at 9-over-par for the event. Harris, who was tied for the individual lead after day one, was tied for fifth coming into Sunday before a 4-over-par, 76 catapulted her into second overall. The second place individual finish was also the highest this season for Kentucky.
- Junior Liz Breed, who was nearly as impressive as Harris over the weekend, recorded a career-high finish tying for sixth overall at 11-over-par. The Waynesboro, Pa., native came into Sunday tied for fifth before falling just one slot after a 6-over-par, 78 final round.
- The UK men's golf team finished in 13th place at the SEC Championships last weekend, shooting 50-over-par for the tournament at the Seaside Course in St. Simmons Island, Ga.
- Junior Ben Stow was the high finisher for the Wildcats, placing tied for 12th at 5-over-par. The Salisbury, England native was even par through the first round before posting 2-over in round two and 3-over in the final 18.
Track and field
- Kentucky opened the new UK Outdoor Track and Field Facility with the inaugural collegiate Heart of the Bluegrass Classic on Saturday.
- UK won all but one of the 29 events the team entered at the inaugural collegiate Heart of the Bluegrass Classic on Saturday.
- Cally Macumber and Michelle Canterna set the school records in their respective events.
- Macumber's mile time of 4:37.75 also set the facility record.
- Canterna cleared the new outdoor school record vault height at 3.87 meter /12'08.25".
- Keith Hayes won all four of the events he entered, including two relays.
- Rebecca Famurewa won three throws events, including a PR in the hammer throw.
Tuesday, April 23
Baseball at Western Kentucky - 7:00 p.m.
Wednesday, April 24
Softball hosts Louisville - 6:00 p.m.
Thursday, April 25
Track and field at Penn Relays - 10:00 a.m. (Philadelphia, Pa.)
Baseball at Ole Miss - 7:30 p.m.
Friday, April 26
Track and field at Penn Relays - 9:00 a.m. (Philadelphia, Pa.)
Track and field at Triton Invitational - 1:00 p.m. (San Diego, Calif.)
Softball hosts Missouri - 5:00 p.m.
Baseball at Ole Miss - 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, April 27
Track and field at Penn Relays - 12:55 p.m. (Philadelphia, Pa.)
Track and field at Triton Invitational - 1:00 p.m. (San Diego, Calif.)
Softball hosts Missouri- 1:00 p.m.
Baseball at Ole Miss - 3:15 p.m.
Track and field at Miami University RedHawk Invitational (Miami, Ohio)
Sunday, April 28
Softball hosts Missouri - 1:00 p.m.
Track and field at Payton Jordan Invitational - 4:00 p.m.
(Palo Alto, Calif.)
That feeling can be awfully burdensome while trying to win golf tournaments and make a successful run in the postseason. There is also a positive perspective to consider, and that's the attitude that Craig has chosen when looking forward to this week's Southeastern Conference Championships.
"I feel like we're ready to play well. We've just kind of tread water this spring," said Craig. "We're in good shape for the postseason. I feel like our best golf is in front of us. We just haven't been able to get all the guys playing well at the same time, so maybe this will be the week."
This team is certainly capable of winning and playing well. They did so multiple times during the fall season and added one of the top European amateur players to the lineup this spring in junior transfer Ben Stow.
The spring weather has been unseasonably unkind in the Lexington area with cooler temperatures, rain and snow, and unkempt golf courses that have hindered the development of the Kentucky golfers. Less time out on the course means less repetitions and experience to prepare for tournaments during the season.
Craig and his team refuse to use the conditions as an excuse, but it's a fact. With better weather finally on the way in the Bluegrass state, UK is looking for their swings to come around much like the warmer temperatures and heat up at the right time.
"The weather's finally breaking, so we can get on grass a little bit more around town here, which should help," Craig said. "It's just a matter of time, but it would be fun to see it happen this week."
Where Kentucky golfers have struggled most is with themselves. The field isn't too tough, and the UK players are plenty talented. If anything, they are trying too hard to find their desired level of success.
Craig wants his guys to stop trying to be Superman out on the golf course and make smart, calculated shots instead of going for the home run on every swing. If everyone buys into that, the results will come.
"Everything that's costing us and holding us back is unforced errors. It's things that are pretty simple, pretty basic, under our control," said Craig. "We're putting good pressure on the golf course to shoot low scores - that's the mark of a good team - but we've had a lot of errors that have been real basic."
After building a solid foundation in the fall, it's possible that expectations for the spring may have gotten the best of the UK golfers. Mounting pressure of living up to the successes of the fall season may have contributed to Kentucky's struggles so far. Stow was looked at as a difference-maker in the lineup, and maybe it was too much to ask so soon.
So Craig has been working individually with his athletes, whether on the course or in private one-on-one sessions trying to get his players to play within themselves and to play together, rather than trying to do everything on their own. While expectations can be good, he doesn't want them to outweigh the enjoyment of playing golf.
"I think that's one of the challenges Cody (Martin) had. We talked about that," said Craig. "He's just got to focus on what he can control. I think Ben's done that. We've talked about that too where he just has to settle down and focus on the process of playing golf and not be burdened by any kind of expectations."
Craig also made sure to let his players know that golf isn't like other sports. Hustling will not cure a golfer's ailments on the course.
"You don't grit and bear and it makes it better. It actually makes it worse," said Craig. "It's not football. It's not basketball. You don't hustle harder and it makes it better.
"It's a whole different deal, a whole different mentality of being able to let it go and relax, be confident, trust. That was you can swing freely and confidently."
Despite the struggles, Craig is still confident in his team. His team is confident as well. If anything, their confidence may have played a small role in their inconsistent play this season.
"I don't think for one minute that this team doesn't believe in itself," said Craig. "If anything, we might be a little overzealous in that category in not choosing the right strategies on the golf course because you feel like you can hit that shot or you should be doing this, when actually you shouldn't be. If anything, we go that route, as opposed to being able to dial it back a little bit."
That's why Craig continues to feel excited about his team's chances headed into SEC and NCAA Regional play. The effort, will, and desire to win are there. They are playing well enough to win, so now, they just need to put it all together at the right time.
"It's not like we're out there scraping around trying to get it done," Craig said. "We're playing well, we just haven't scored nearly as well as we've played.
"Normally when that happens, it's just a matter of time. That's why I'm encouraged."