J.B. Holmes shot a final-round 64 and won the Shell Houston Open on the second playoff hole Sunday for his fourth career PGA Tour victory.
Holmes narrowly missed a 10-foot birdie putt for the victory in Humbe, Texas, but he claimed the title when Johnson Wagner pushed a 5-foot par putt that lipped out. Johnson needed a victory to qualify for next week’s Masters.
Holmes earned $1,188,000 with the victory, while Wagner and Jordan Spieth, who was eliminated in the first hole of the playoff, each took home $580,800 in a tie for second place.
Thanks to shooting the day’s best round, a 8-under-par 64 at the Golf Club of Houston, Holmes jumped from 18th place to first at 16-under 272. Spieth, the third-round leader, closed with a 70, and Wagner carded a 69 on Sunday.
Russell Henley fired a 69 to finish fourth at 14-under 274, a shot ahead of a four-way tie for fifth that included Augusta, Ga., native Charles Howell III, who also needed a victory to qualify for the Masters.
Holmes began the day six shots behind Spieth but quickly closed the gap with birdies on
seven of his first eight holes and made the turn in 29.
“I knew I had to play a really low round, and I started out great,” Holmes said. “It worked out for me.”
Holmes reach 17 under par before recording a bogey on the par-3 16th hole. He completed his round almost two hours before Wagner’s dramatic 25-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole matched Holmes at 16 under to force a playoff.
“Birdieing 18 to even get in the playoff was pretty incredible,” said Wagner, who won the event in 2008 but entered the week ranked 495th in the world and needed a sponsor’s exemption to get into the field. “I’m pretty bummed right now, this is one of my favorite events, but what are you going to do?”
In the final group behind Johnson, Spieth needed par to make it a three-way playoff. He flared his approach shot right of a greenside bunker but made an excellent up and down to save par.
Spieth nearly went in the water with his drive on the first playoff hole. He managed to get his approach into the greenside bunker, near Johnson’s ball, while Holmes was safely on the green. Spieth hit his bunker shot fat and was eliminated from contention with a bogey.
“I had a really good lie, and I just got down into the sand a lot quicker than I normally do there and caught it fat,” Spieth said of the bunker shot. “Didn’t leave me with an easy chance of continuing the playoff, but still a great Easter Sunday and happy with the way I played down the stretch.”
Johnson converted his up-and-down for par, while Holmes’ 40-foot birdie putt narrowly slid left of the hole.
The remaining pair returned for a third consecutive attempt at the 18th hole, and Holmes and Johnson each hit the fairway with their drives. While Johnson’s approach left him a difficult, lengthy putt, Holmes put his second shot within 10 feet. Johnson’s birdie attempt drifted 5 feet below the hole, setting up Holmes’ attempt to win it with a birdie.
Holmes failed to convert the birdie, but he secured the victory with Johnson’s bogey.
“It’s a big step coming into a major,” said Holmes, who moved to third in the FedEx Cup standings as he prepares for the Masters. “I went (to Augusta on) Monday, Tuesday and saw the course, and so hopefully I’ll be ready next week and I’m hitting it well, so looking forward to it.