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J.B. Holmes on roller coaster round, ace, elbow pain and more

J.B. Holmes.

Kentuckian J.B. Holmes had a 7-under par 64 in the first round of the Phoenix Waste Management Open on Thursday that included a hole-in-one on the fourth hole and three straight birdies to finish the round. He’s in third place — three behind the leader — going into the second round of the tourney he’s won twice before.

Here’s what he had to say after his round Thursday:

Q. What is it about this place that you like so much?
JB HOLMES: I won here twice so I have a lot of good memories. And, yeah, I like playing in the desert. It’s just I just enjoy being here. So the greens are always usually in great shape. They’re in great shape this week, they’re quick, they’re firm. So just when you get to a place where you have a lot of good memories, you just already go in with a little more confidence than you do at other tournaments.

Q. Where does that front nine rank in terms of roller coasters in your career?
JB HOLMES: It’s up there pretty good. I mean, the first five holes were up there, quite a bit of a roller coaster, but after that I made some pars. But unfortunately, I’ve had nines and stuff like that before.

Q. Is there something about the desert specifically that you enjoy or appreciate?
JB HOLMES: I actually like that the ball goes a little bit further. It seems to — I don’t know a percentage or anything, but it seems like I can, my feel for that is really good here. So I seem to be able to judge it, kind of hit it where I want to really accurately, even though it goes a little bit further than it normally does.

Q. What do you think when you walk up 18 and see that plaque with your name on it?
JB HOLMES: That’s really cool. Not everybody gets a plaque out there. And every time you get to see that, that’s a great memory, get to meet a Hall of Famer, one of the best players ever in Phil in a playoff, and to do it the way I did it, it’s pretty cool to have a plaque out there. It’s awesome.

Q. A tough stretch following it. What’s the biggest challenge for you or for anyone in general when you go through that period where the results just aren’t there? You’re trying to change things and you can’t quite get there?
JB HOLMES: Yeah, it was tough. It was a tough year kind of after the win. So but you got the win so that makes the year pretty solid to start with. But yeah, just couldn’t get it going. So played start, came up a little bit, but not where I wanted to and kind of got burned out and I needed to it get away from it, so I took along couple months off and just didn’t touch a club and just trying to reset and everything. So it’s just a big grind out here and I worked real hard last year and it just didn’t happen and sometimes that’s how it is.

Q. Is the biggest challenge more on mental side when you go through those stretches?
JB HOLMES: It is. Mentally, when stuff’s not going your way and it’s hard to get the scores and get the ball in the hole, it’s tough to stay mentally tough there sometimes. And sometimes you just need a break. For me that’s always been a good way to do it is just to get away from it a little bit and kind of restart and the body kind of resets and everything and go back to doing stuff that I know how to do.

Q. Any idea how many aces you’ve had on TOUR?
JB HOLMES: I’ve had four on TOUR in tournaments. In practice rounds I’ve had six.

Q. That’s pretty good. If it happened, it counts.
JB HOLMES: All right. Six.

Q. What was the best one?
JB HOLMES: Probably —

Q. Best being a subjective term.
JB HOLMES: Yeah, they were all really great anytime you get one to go in. Riviera last year, that one was pretty cool. Backed it up and in. But I made one in Florida at the World Golf Championship at Doral. That was cool to see that one go in. So I mean, you’re talking about hole in ones. They’re all great.

Q. At any time in the shot today at 4, did one pop into your mind?
JB HOLMES: Well, I had a rough start, like they said, so I didn’t feel like everything was going my way, so I wasn’t thinking it was actually going to go in. But I hit it up there. I knew it was a good shot and I thought I’m going to have a short putt for birdie and then it disappeared, so that was an extra bonus.

Q. When the ball was in the air you didn’t think this might go in —
JB HOLMES: It was left of the pin. I knew I was cutting it back towards the pin. I hit it like I wanted to, but I’ve hit it like I’ve wanted to a million times and it rarely goes in. So it was, I just knew it was a good shot and I hit it where I wanted to and lucky enough it went in.

Q. How many people were on the green? Quite a few?
JB HOLMES: About 15. Not a ton. It was early. They kind of — you know.

Q. There will probably about a hundred people say they were, though.
JB HOLMES: Yeah, could be. There might have been some more people on the hole back there that heard them yell.

Q. Any family, friends, or relatives at the green who saw it?
JB HOLMES: No, just my buddy on the bag Brandon.

Q. Did it flip a switch or what really worked on the second nine?
JB HOLMES: My arm stopped hurting as much on the — Marc Wahl, my trainer, came out and pretty much massaged my arm from 9 green all the way to 10 and that helped. Still hurt a little bit but not as much. And I just, I putted really well on the back, hit it in good spots and made some good putts.

Q. How long has that been a problem?
JB HOLMES: Six years. So, on and off. It hurts, it’s been hurting a little bit more lately than it normally does, but hopefully we’ll get some work on it and it will feel better tomorrow.

Q. Tendonitis?
JB HOLMES: It is probably now. It’s usually tennis elbow, but I had surgery there, I got a scar here that I’ve had to have surgery and so it’s just kind of one of those things that we’re always on top of and trying to stretch and trying to avoid, because we know it can pop up a little bit easier than other stuff.

Q. Is that common to stretch during a round like that?
JB HOLMES: No, not very often. No, usually we stay on top of it enough during the year it doesn’t usually bother me too bad. It might hurt on a couple shots, but usually by the time I warm-up on the range it’s good to go and it’s just, it bothered me the last couple days a little more than it has.

Q. Does that affect how many balls you can hit and has it affected your practice preparation?
JB HOLMES: It’s going to affect how balls I hit today because I’m not going to hit any. And I didn’t hit any yesterday. So I’ve been trying to rest it. I can hit putts and chip — I can hit balls, but I don’t know how beneficial it is if you’re hurting.

Q. Just hit fewer shots on the course, problem solved.
JB HOLMES: I was just trying to get in, I just didn’t want to hit it as many times so my arm would stop hurting, that was the goal.

Q. How often do you wear the tape?
JB HOLMES: I usually don’t — I don’t wear it all the time, just when it starts flaring up a little bit. Last week it flared up a little bit. It was one of those where I hit on the range I was fine and then once I got on the golf course I could really feel it. And then this week Tuesday it was hurting a little bit more than usual and yesterday it didn’t really hurt that much during the swing, but I felt it a little bit more and it was hurting today and felt it on the range and felt it on the first hole and second hole and just couldn’t get my swing exactly where I wanted to there earlier and just found out it was going to hurt and kind of manipulated it around the rest of the time.

Q. What hurts more the elbow or pulling the tape off afterwards?
JB HOLMES: Definitely the elbow.

Q. What’s the best thing you’ve heard on 16 over the years?
JB HOLMES: Don’t hear a lot of great comments. Everybody’s having a good time, I’m glad it’s a unique experience, glad everybody’s having fun, so it’s a cool hole, it’s cool.

Q. Do they say something about Kentucky for you?
JB HOLMES: They will yell, Wildcats. I guess my first year when I won one of the coolest things they yelled was they chanted Taylor County High School and I was like a, that was like my rookie year and I’m like, how do they even know that. They got some in there that are pretty clever. So like I said, it’s a cool hole, cool event.

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