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Golfer J.B. Holmes Thanks God for Ability to Play, Win Even after Two Brain Surgeries

( [email protected] ) May 06, 2014 09:18 AM EDT
After a strong start as a young gun golfer, disease and trauma took a toll.  Holmes followed his faith back to victory, and counts it as a blessing to know God and be able to play again.
J.B. Holmes poses with the trophy after winning the Wells Fargo Championship golf tournament in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, May 4, 2014. (AP Photo/Bob Leverone)

J.B. Holmes won the Wells Fargo Championship this weekend after overcoming some great odds on and off the golf course.

He wasn't just a longshot because he was ranked 242nd in the world entering the tournament at Quail Hollow, or that it had been six years since he won. The long odds had little to do with the fact that he had to face the likes of Phil Mickelson, Jim Furyk or Rory Mcilroy, or that the tourney was held on a very tough Quail Hollow course.

Actually in his mind he had already won just by playing golf again, so the odds really didn't matter.

According to the Golf Channel, Holmes was actually thinking about how grateful he is just before he sank the winning putt, not about the pressure to overcome such long odds.

"Just enjoying the moment," said Holmes, 32, in regards to what he was thinking as he was closing in on the victory. "You don't get that very often, so I was thanking God for letting me have the opportunity to do it, whether I made it or not, just enjoying being there."

What makes his win so spectacular, and the odds so crazy, and his thanks to God so real, is that since he last won in 2008, he has had his brain operated on twice. Yep, twice.

According to Golf Digest, On Sept. 1, 2011, Holmes underwent brain surgery for a rare disorder that was giving him vertigo and terrible headaches. A month later, it was discovered that he was allergic to the adhesive used on a titanium plate placed in his skull, requiring a second surgery. Two years after that he had a rollerblading accident that broke his ankle, so as he healed, he had another surgery on an ailing elbow.

Before the injuries and surgieries, he was a two time PGA tour winner, and a championship member of the 2008 Ryder Cup team, but after the medical issues, things took a turn.

After the surgery, the wheels seemed to come off his career, and some wrote the one time hotshot off. To the kid who played for his High School golf team - when he was in 3rd grade - this was odd ground.

So as he walked through the valley, he turned to what had given him strength so many times before. The Lord.

He is deeply religious, and leaned on that to fuel his comeback.

Next thing you know, over the last few months, he's putting together some top finishes and playing longball golf. He looks strong again. Holmes tuned-in the driver at Quail Hollow to lead the field off the tee, and more importantly coupled it with exceptional short game play.

His 66 on Saturday gave him a one-stroke lead over Martin Flores. His Sunday 71 was just one stroke better than Furyk, who was chasing him most of the day. And, as it is in the game of Golf sometimes, just like that, Holmes' career is made whole again, no matter the holes in his head, or patched bones in his feet.

From the win he earned a two-year tour card exemption, a nice big paycheck, the FedEx Tournament Cup points, the Masters invite and even a last minute invitation to this week's Players Championship at Sawgrass.

But Holmes would probably tell you that those blessings are small compared to knowing God and surviving brain surgery, and all the other trials and tribulations that have come his way in the last decade.

He still has a small piece of His skull as a reminder of how precious life is, and how every blessing should be counted.

He had been keeping it in a jar atop his closet, but after his most recent win, he moved it to a new location.

"I put it in the trophy,"he joked after the tournament. "It's been a long road."