Championship notebook: Holmes finds himself in similar spot

Published 12:47 am Friday, May 15, 2015

Notes from Quail Hollow…

CHARLOTTE — J.B. Holmes has been in this position before at Quail Hollow. Holmes, the defending champion opened the tournament with a 3-under 69. He finds himself tied for 13th, four shots behind leader Robert Streb.

Holmes was in a similar situation after the first round in 2014. He shot a 2-under 70 and trailed Angel Cabrera by four shots before a second-round 67 and third-round 66 propelled him to a victory. Holmes doesn’t feel any pressure to push too hard Friday to move up the leaderboard.

“I’m in a good spot,” he said. “Every event, someone in the first round will shoot 7-, 8-under in the first round. Tomorrow, it could be 7(-under) again or it might be eight or nine. It usually won’t jump that much. I’m in a good spot.

“If I shoot 3-under all four days, I think — depending on the weather and the wind — that’s going to be a pretty good score. We’ll just see.”

Even though he is trying to be the first golfer to successfully defend his title as well as the first two-time winner of the event, Holmes is still looking at this the same as any other week on tour. He said he just played and had a good start.

Thursday’s round wasn’t a bland 69. He pushed his second shot on the par-five fifth to the right of the green. It hit the cart path and wound up under a tree. Holmes was able to punch the ball up to the fringe and two putt for a par.

“It was a good one for me,” he said.

A special pro-am

The final group in Wednesday’s pro-am was a special one for a teenager from South Carolina and a professional golfer from Northern Ireland.

Grace Vaughan, a 16-year-old from Chesnee, South Carolina, was paired with Rory McIlroy, the world’s No. 1 pro, for the 18-hole experience. Vaughan got the slot with McIlroy after winning an essay contest sponsored by Wells Fargo. She wrote about a rare blood disease she suffers from. As the winner, one of her prizes was playing with a professional of her choosing.

“Rory has always been my favorite,” Vaughan said to a huddle of press members outside the Quail Hollow Club’s clubhouse. “Natural choice.”

Off to the side, McIlroy joked, “Give me a big head over here.”

“Today was like a dream come true,” Vaughan said. “It was amazing. The best day ever.”

She said a lot of the golf tips she picked up from McIlroy were about putting. She said McIlroy aided her in reading greens and “taking it slow and watching where it goes.”


It was a different experience from what McIlroy is accustomed to when playing in pro-ams. The time on the course was more relaxed.

“If every pro-am was like this I wouldn’t complain,” he said. “We play our fair share of pro-ams with, as you said, middle-aged rich guys in the corporate world, which is great as well. It provides guys with a lot of opportunities, not just on the golf course.

“But to be able to play with someone like Grace (on Wednesday) — who has an amazing background and story. Just let her come out here and enjoy the day as best she can, that makes me feel good that I can sort of give something back.”