SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) J.B. Holmes failed to birdie the 18th hole in the first three rounds of the FBR Open. Then he did it twice Sunday, coming back from the brink of defeat to steal a victory from one of the biggest names in golf.
Holmes' 13-foot birdie putt forced a playoff with Phil Mickelson, then moments later he sank an 8-footer after a monster, 359-yard drive to win the tournament for the second time in three years.
"I can play under pressure, I guess," he said.
Holmes, whose victory as a rookie at the FBR in 2006 is his only other PGA Tour win, had blown a four-stroke lead and was one shot behind going in to the 18th. The far more seasoned Mickelson seemed destined for his third victory in the tournament and 33rd of his career.
But the 25-year-old Kentuckian smashed a 350-yard drive that landed near a fence far left of the fairway. He was given a drop, then hit his second shot out of the rough 13 feet from the pin to set up the putt that put him at 14-under 270 and forced the playoff with Mickelson.
Holmes' playoff tee shot went straight and deep down the fairway. He walked away from the drive like Barry Bonds after a home run.
"I smoked it," Holmes said. "I thought it went farther than it did."
Holmes second shot came to rest just 8 feet from victory.
"Starting the day, I would have gladly taken getting into a playoff," Mickelson said, "but I've got to give J.B. a lot of credit for birdieing the last hole and birdieing again to get in the playoff. That's pretty impressive golf."
Holmes was not intimidated going into a playoff against the second-ranked player in the world.
"I felt like I had the advantage," he said. "I could hit it over the bunker. He'd been sitting in the clubhouse. I was loose. I was ready. The hole favors me, no reason I didn't win."
Mickelson, who birdied three of the final six holes of regulation, just missed a 28-foot birdie putt before Holmes made the winner. The victory was worth $1.08 million.
Holmes shot a final round of even-par 71.
"I didn't have my best stuff today," he said, "and I came through and won. I didn't give up. I played hard, and when I needed to make it, I did."
It was the tournament's 13th playoff in its 73-year history and first since Mickelson beat Justin Leonard in a three-hole playoff in 1996. That, coincidentally, was the other weekend that the Super Bowl was held in Arizona.