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February 4, 2006

J.B. Holmes


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: J. B. Holmes, thank you for joining us. You are our 54 hole leader, Astra Zeneca Charity Challenge winner this week. In your name, along with the FBR Open and Astra Zeneca, the American Heart Association, and also the National Latina Health Network will receive a $50,000 donation for their use in your name. Congratulations on that.

J.B. HOLMES: That's awesome.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Let's talk about the golf tournament here at the FBR Open. You're the 54 hole leader as a rookie. Great week for you so far. Just some opening comments.

J.B. HOLMES: I'm having a lot of fun so far. I've got the putter working. And if you get the putter working you can make some birdies.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Talk about your expectations going into tomorrow. You're going to be playing with Ryan Palmer and J. J., who you played with today. Both those guys talked about your length, but also said you obviously have the game to be out here and do well. Maybe just talk about the pairing tomorrow.

J.B. HOLMES: I know about those guys. It'll be a lot of fun out there tomorrow. Just go out and have a good time and keep doing what I've been doing.

Q. What was it like just with the huge crowds out there? Obviously you haven't played in front of that much.

J.B. HOLMES: It's very exciting. It's a lot of fun. As soon as you hit a shot, you've got everybody yelling. It's just a phenomenal experience, just glad to be here. I just thank the Lord that he's blessed me so far and got me in this situation.

Q. Is there any chance that the nerves get to you in that situation in terms of

J.B. HOLMES: What do you mean? At 16?

Q. Tomorrow with the big crowds and all that.

J.B. HOLMES: I mean, anybody could. Even when Tiger is winning, whoever is winning, you've got nerves. Everybody has got nerves, it just depends on how you handle it.

Q. Did the crowd give you any special attention on 16, any special chant just for you?

J.B. HOLMES: I had one group that was chanting "Taylor County." That's where I went to high school.

Q. How did they find that out, do you think?

J.B. HOLMES: I have no idea.

Q. Is that impressive, though, that they go that deep?

J.B. HOLMES: It's all on the website (laughter).

Q. You've got guys out there like Toms and Leonard that are three shots behind, I think. Seeing those names and knowing the experience they have, is that a little I don't want to say unnerving, but does it cause concern, in your sense?

J.B. HOLMES: No reason to be concerned. They're great players and they've done a great job and they've won a lot of tournaments. But I'm playing well so far, and through three rounds I'm ahead of them. I don't see any reason why I can't go out there and continue to play solid and just kind of see what happens tomorrow.

Those two could definitely make a run. With my length, I think I have a little more advantage on this golf course than they do, but their short games are phenomenal. Like you said, they've won a lot of tournaments.

Q. Do you have a number that you feel like you would have to shoot tomorrow, or do you get caught up in numbers?

J.B. HOLMES: There's no reason to. The wind could blow 50 miles an hour tomorrow and shoot 3 over and win. I mean, there's no sense to have expectations like that going in. You just go out there and keep doing what I've been doing hole by hole.

If you set your goal to be 20 under or whatever, like that, and you go a few holes and you're not doing what you want to, you put added pressure on yourself. So there's no reason to do that, just go one hole at a time, just like J. J. did, rolling off seven birdies in a row. It's possible out here, so there's no sense to get caught up in an actual number too much.

Q. You were probably asked this ten times. Mentally at Q school, is there any lingering positive effect from that?

J.B. HOLMES: Definitely. It's a pro event and I won, six rounds, a lot of great players there.

Q. Pressure?

J.B. HOLMES: A huge amount of pressure, so it's definitely given me a lot of confidence, and it's carried over so far. It was really exciting to come out with a victory there and just to have a lot of fun, to have so many things happen so quick here.

Q. How was the pressure in the last round of that tournament compared to the last round of this tournament? You probably would be relatively safe at Q school.

J.B. HOLMES: I was safe there, but there was still a lot of pressure, and crazy things have happened before. It was probably a lot more pressure then. If I play bad tomorrow or whatever, I'm still on the Tour. Q school, if I don't play well, there is no tomorrow, or you go to Nationwide or something like that. There's a lot more pressure in Q school.

Q. Have there been people along the way who have been instrumental swing wise or mentally or coaching wise?

J.B. HOLMES: My college coach Brian Craig helped me out a whole lot. My father has been an inspiration for me, taking me to tournaments and letting me play and learn and taking me out on the golf course when I was four and he would go play with his buddies and me. That was definitely a big help.

As in swing or anything

Q. Did he teach you to swing much?

J.B. HOLMES: He said my swing is the same now as the first time I picked up a club. Not a whole lot has changed. It's just been God given ability so far.

Q. What did Coach Craig do?

J.B. HOLMES: He helped me with some things, helped me hit it straighter. He helped me with setup. He didn't really change my swing.

Q. Where did you get those forearms?

J.B. HOLMES: I don't know.

Q. You've always just been naturally

J.B. HOLMES: Naturally strong.

Q. Is your dad a big guy?

J.B. HOLMES: Pretty big. He is kind of a mix. My mom's side had people with some really big chests. My dad's side had really big lower legs. And I got a big upper body from my mom's side and I got pretty big legs from my dad's side.

Q. Have you always been long? There's so much talk about technology making everybody long. You've been playing longer than there have been Pro V1s and 20 cc drivers out here.

J.B. HOLMES: I started at a young age, and there were always people that hit it longer. But playing with people my age, I always hit it longer. I've been hitting it over 300 yards since I was like 14.

Q. And you were really in the third grade when you were playing on the high school team?


Q. And you started beating them in fifth grade?

J.B. HOLMES: Yeah, in fifth and sixth grade started beating them.

Q. Started beating guys on the high school team?

J.B. HOLMES: Yeah, I think I was like 3 man in 6th grade.

Q. What's the longest par 4 you've ever driven?

J.B. HOLMES: Let's see, there's one on my home course not my home course, but in Lexington, and it was like an island green. I flew it like 365 onto the green or something. It probably went 380 and it was on the back.

Q. Did it hold?

J.B. HOLMES: Yeah, it landed about this far (indicating one yard) from the pin and rolled back.

Q. Is your wedge game pretty good, considering you're hitting wedge on almost every hole?

J.B. HOLMES: It could always be better, but yeah, I'm a pretty good wedge player. I mean, 16 under, you don't get that way making all putts. I'm a pretty good wedge player. I'm not as good as the elite out here. That's something I need to work on, and I'll have a little time.

Q. 18, of all the holes, that had to be kind of the most nerve wracking.

J.B. HOLMES: Yeah, I hit that driver off the heel, so I didn't think it would get over. It was close, and the ball just kind of sat down in the bunker. It wasn't a real easy shot. I had to kind of hit half wedge. I just pulled it and it wasn't a real hard chip. I hit a good chip and tapped it in.

Q. Was there any hole or any point in the round today that felt like kind of a turning point for you?

J.B. HOLMES: Probably from about my third birdie when I made that putt on the par 3, on like the 4th hole. That put me 3 under, and J. J. was 15, so I was catching up.

I bogeyed the next hole, but then came back with a birdie. I was feeling confident there and hit a good shot on the next par 3 and really thought I was going to make that putt and missed it. But it was probably not a huge turning point.

I thought I was really going to take off after I made a birdie on 14. You usually expect to at least birdie one of 15, 17, and I didn't putting the tees up on 15 kind of hurt me.

Q. Did you hit a hybrid there?

J.B. HOLMES: Yeah, because 3 wood it necks up. 3 wood gets up in the air and driver gets up in the air. I don't understand why they moved it there that much. Everybody was hitting 3 wood off that tee.

Q. You could still get there? Did you get there anyway?

J.B. HOLMES: No, I hit it in the rough. If I would have hit it in the fairway, the fairway is so firm

Q. You were a yard in the rough?

J.B. HOLMES: Yeah, if I would have hit it in the fairway, I would have probably been 225 to the front. It was in between clubs. It was either an easy 3 wood the fairways are so firm on that hole, it's just hard to it can really take off. And the bank over there is just shaved, so if you hit it too much it'll trickle in the water.

Q. Was there a time at any level, whether it's amateur golf or college golf, when did you first realize that you were at this elite level? You see some of the other national players and played with them and realized you were at that level?

J.B. HOLMES: I got two different ones. When I went to UK, I only had a few schools recruit me, mostly because I stayed in state and played a lot. I had a few SEC coaches tell me I wasn't good enough to play on their team. That put a little fire in me. And I went out there the first year and played on UK's team and got 13 all American. And then I went out there and did really good in college. I'm like, Wow, I'm better than I thought I was.

Then I played in the U.S. Open my sophomore year and played terrible the first round, played well the second round. I played with Chad Campbell, at the time 8th on the Money List, a real good player. I was watching up there and I realized there's still a lot I can improve on but I can play with these guys.

Q. Which Open was this?

J.B. HOLMES: Olympia Fields.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: You birdied the first hole.

J.B. HOLMES: Yeah, I was leading for a hole. I was the first group off.

Q. The 16th hole played second toughest today. Was that the hole location or 40,000 people watching?

J.B. HOLMES: Both, probably both. It's a different experience. You've got a lot of adrenaline going through you. You've got everybody yelling. It was like 180 or something today. You've got adrenaline pumping, you've got people yelling, and you can't feel the wind up over the top.

J. J. today flew 9 iron over the green. I hit pitching wedge and chunked it, and it probably would have got there. It's hard for club selection because you've got that adrenaline pumping and the wind, and you do have 20,000 or 30,000 yelling at you. As soon as you hit the ball, and if you miss the green, they're booing you. So it's different.

Q. Have you played any golf with Bubba?

J.B. HOLMES: No, I have not.

Q. You're both kind of long.

J.B. HOLMES: That's what I hear. Yeah, he hits it a long ways. I've seen him swing a little bit.

Q. He's a taller guy.

J.B. HOLMES: Yeah, he takes it back a little further than me.

Q. You mentioned that you didn't want to bring that water into play necked out on 15. What's the landing area? About 300, 290?

J.B. HOLMES: Yeah, something like that.

Q. And then it gets real skinny in there and if you pull it a hair you can lose it in the water?

J.B. HOLMES: Yeah, they've shaved so much of that side, you've basically got a 15 yard area there, and it rolls so much. Now, if it was wet or something, it would have been no problem hitting 3 wood.

I think the first round I just hit an easy driver from back there, and it might have flew 270 and it went 348. It just rolls forever.

I just made two birdies, didn't want anything stupid. If you're in between clubs if I would have hit the hybrid well, I would have got in there, but I just didn't make a good swing.

Q. The other Kentucky guys, have you had much contact with them over the years, Kenny Perry or Russ Cochran?

J.B. HOLMES: I had a little contact with Russ. I played junior golf with his son Ryan. I knew Russ a little bit. I met Steve a few times in college, and I met Kenny for the first time in Hawaii.

Q. Have you introduced yourself? There's a lot of new young guys from Q school. Are you just one of the new guys or do you have to introduce yourself around the clubhouse at all?

J.B. HOLMES: You mean to the players?

Q. Yeah.

J.B. HOLMES: No, they usually keep up with Q school pretty good. They kind of know who I am. The first tournament probably not, but I got a Top 10 and I've thrown my name out there a little bit. I think now most of them, but my feelings aren't hurt if nobody knows my name. It's not a big deal.

Q. It only takes one day on TV to fix that. You probably fixed that today?

J. J. said not only are you long but you hit a deceivingly long ball; it doesn't jump like others. He was impressed, and you cut the ball. Is that your shape, kind of a high cut?

J.B. HOLMES: Yeah. When I was younger, I played I'm a pro now, so I would play a big draw, but it was a big hook. I just slung it way out there. I won a lot of tournaments when I was a junior golfer and played well. I lot of times if I hit it bad it would go forever. I went to my club pro one day and said, "Set me up to hit a cut. I'm tired of hitting a draw." That was after I graduated high school and before I went to college. He goes, "It might take you a while to adjust." I said, okay, and I shot 63 twice that week hitting the cut and I've been doing it ever since.

Q. Where did you come about sort of that real firm back swing, that three quarters?

J.B. HOLMES: Just always swung like that. It's just natural.

Q. It's not something that you really noticed until you saw yourself on videotape?

J.B. HOLMES: I mean, I knew I didn't take a full swing. Basically I just don't stretch back that far. If I get my arms all wadded up I hit it back.

Q. Do you get tight up here?

J.B. HOLMES: Usually when I go back I mean, my swing is short now, but if I go back this much further I'd hit it everywhere. I'm peaked out, as long as my swing is going to get.

Q. Do you have to work on keeping it there?

J.B. HOLMES: No. Maybe once or twice in my life it's gotten long, and the coach is like, your swing is this much longer than it normally is, or that much (indicating six inches), and I haven't had to worry about it too much.

Q. You seemed happy with the up and down on 16. That was a tough bunker shot because you have a lip to deal with.

J.B. HOLMES: Yeah, I didn't hit the greatest bunker shot, but I hit it up there and gave myself a chance to make a putt. It's always exciting to make a putt in front of that many people. That was a big putt. You don't want to bogey a hole like that, I don't think. It is 180, but I had wedge in my hand.


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