American Holmes holds halfway lead at Phoenix Open

By: AFP      Published: 03:51 PM, 1 Feb, 2020
American Holmes holds halfway lead at Phoenix Open
J.B. Holmes plays a shot from a bunker on the 18th hole during the second round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale. AFP

J.B. Holmes shot a blistering six-under 65 on Friday to seize a one-shot lead over first-round leader Wyndham Clark at the halfway stage of the USPGA Tour's Phoenix Open.

Holmes posted six birdies, one eagle and two bogeys to emerge with a 13-under total 129 at the TPC Scottsdale Stadium course in the Arizona desert. "Hit it really good in the middle of the round," said Holmes, who won at Scottsdale in 2006 and 2008 for the first two of his five Tour titles. "Didn't hit it quite as good toward the end, but putted really well and was able to make some birdies."

Holmes is still looking for his first win since his final-round collapse at the British Open six months ago when he closed with an 87. His last win came at the 2019 Genesis Open last February. 

Holmes teed off on the 10th and it wasn't long before he got his putter going. He birdied three holes in a four hole stretch beginning at No. 13 then eagled the par-four 17 with a nice approach and a six foot putt to grab a share of the lead. "I was just worried about it maybe going too far left," Holmes said of his approach on 17. "But when I hit it, I thought I hit it about right and hopefully it would hit into that bank or bounce just up and it did."

Holmes, who suffers from vertigo, underwent two brain surgeries in 2011 before returning to the Tour the next year. He enjoys the raucous atmosphere in the Phoenix event and says he is in a good frame of mind. "There's going to be a lot of people. It's going to be really loud," Holmes said. "Just keep doing what I've been doing, hopefully, keep making putts and not change the strategy. It's worked pretty good so far."

Clark, who fired a 61 on Thursday, shot a 69 to take sole possession of second at 12-under 130. South Korea's An Byeong-hun and American Billy Horschel were tied for third after shooting 66 and 68 respectively. Scott Piercy was alone in fifth after a 65 got him to 10-under, three strokes back of Holmes.

FedEx Cup leader Justin Thomas, who is seeking his third victory of the season, shot a three under 68 and was tied for 17th at six under with seven others. Thomas recently joined Tiger Woods, Jimmy Walker and Dustin Johnson as the only players to hold the No. 1 spot in the US tour's FedEx Cup rankings for 30 weeks in their careers.

World No. 51 Jordan Spieth struggled to a 69 and missed the cut after an embarrassing 74 on Thursday. He needs to move within the top 50 to qualify for next month's WGC-Mexico Championship. Defending champion Rickie Fowler rebounded from another first round 74 with a six-under 65 and just make the cut.

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