Notebook: Memorable Eagle Puts Holmes in Contention

J.B. Holmes shot a 1-over 71 on Saturday, but stayed in contention thanks to a spectacular hole-out for eagle on No. 16. (USGA/Darren Carroll)
J.B. Holmes shot a 1-over 71 on Saturday, but stayed in contention thanks to a spectacular hole-out for eagle on No. 16. (USGA/Darren Carroll)

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UNIVERSITY PLACE, Wash. – As far as he hits the ball, making an eagle on a par 4 isn’t new territory for J.B. Holmes. Doing it in the third round of the U.S. Open on Chambers Bay’s undulating greens, however, is a different ballgame.

After his drive on the 372-yard 16th hole skittered on the firm turf through the green and into a bunker 26 yards from the flagstick, Holmes got creative. He used his 48-degree wedge to explode the ball beyond the hole, where it caught a slope and rolled approximately 15 feet and dropped for the only eagle made at 16 through 54 holes.

The spectacular shot keyed Holmes’ 1-over 71 on a difficult scoring day and left him at 1-under 209, three strokes behind Jason Day, Dustin Johnson, Branden Grace and Jordan Spieth.

“It's pretty special to be in a U.S. Open on Saturday and in contention, and have that happen,” Holmes said. “That's pretty awesome. So I'll definitely log that in the memory bank as a great moment in my career. A lot of fun.”

Holmes’ goal is simply to play quality golf and Sunday and see what happens.

“All I can do is control my routines, enjoy being out there, enjoy the moment,” he said. “Not too many people get to play in the U.S. Open, much less be in contention. I’m going to enjoy the opportunity, have fun tomorrow and hopefully it goes my way.”

The way a certain bunker shot fell for him at the right time on Saturday.


Spieth-Reed Becoming Popular Pairing

The matchup of Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed in the final pairing of Saturday’s third round of the 115th U.S. Open featured players who proved to be effective teammates in last fall’s Ryder Cup at Gleneagles in Scotland.

Spieth and Reed teamed to go 2-0-1 in foursomes and four-ball matches against Europe, but as they began Saturday’s third round at Chambers Bay tied at 5 under par, , they were friendly adversaries.

They should be used to it by now.

Dating to the beginning of 2014, the two have been paired together 13 times in official PGA Tour starts and once more this past December in the Hero World Challenge, the offseason invitational hosted by Tiger Woods.

Seven of those starts came before Tom Watson paired the two Texans at Gleneagles. Seven have come after, including Saturday’s pairing at Chambers Bay, with Spieth coming out on top four times after shooting 1-over 71 opposite Reed’s 6-over 76 Saturday. Spieth shot 62 to Reed’s 74 at the RBC Heritage in Hilton Head, S.C., the week after he won the Masters. Spieth ended up tied for 11th while Reed missed the cut.

After finishing off his second-round 69 Friday to tie Spieth for the 36-hole lead, Reed was asked about facing off against his Ryder Cup teammate.

“It’s going to be fun,” said Reed, who struggled to a 6-over 76 compared to Spieth’s 71. “Anytime I play with Jordan, I enjoy it.”

“I knew he was a great player before [The Ryder Cup],” Reed added. “So it didn’t surprise me that he went over [to Scotland] and played really well over there with me.”

Amateur Hardy a Popular Figure After Extending Cut Line

Amateur Nick Hardy was a popular figure in the players’ locker room Saturday morning. Webb Simpson, the 2012 U.S. Open champion, and a few other fellow competitors wanted to shake Hardy’s hand. After all, it was because of the University of Illinois sophomore that 15 players, Simpson among them, got to play two more rounds in the U.S. Open.

Hardy, 19, of Northbrook, Ill., was the last player on the golf course Friday night at Chambers Bay, and his bogey on the par-3 ninth dropped him to 5-over 145 and a tie for 60th place, the exact number for the 36-hole cut. Hardy, in fact, bogeyed three of his last four holes. As he stood on the ninth tee, there were exactly 60 players at 4 over.

“They came up to me this morning, kind of laughed about it, but that’s golf,” said Hardy, who is playing in his fifth USGA championship and first U.S. Open after getting through sectional qualifying in Springfield, Ohio. “I just happened to be the last one on the course.”

That meant he also was the first player on the course Saturday, and Hardy, playing with NCAA champion Bryson DeChambeau, who went along as a marker, shot a 7-over 77 for a 54-hole total of 12-over 222.

Hardy, who shared the Big Ten individual title this year, was more than happy to accept some good-natured ribbing from his fellow competitors. But he couldn’t take anything more from them. They joked that they wanted to buy him dinner.

“They were goofing off,” Hardy said. “I’m like, ‘No, that’s against NCAA rules.’”

Bill Fields is a Connecticut-based freelance writer. Dave Shedloski is an Ohio-based freelance writer whose work frequently appears on USGA websites.