PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. — J.B. Holmes is known for two things: hitting long drives and his slow play.

Holmes, though, also is the defending champion of the Genesis Invitational, which begins Thursday at Riviera Country Club.

“It’s my favorite track we play on Tour, so it’s always exciting to get to come here and play this beautiful golf course,’’ Holmes said Wednesday. “[I’ve] got good memories, so you get to come back to a place where you’ve got good memories and enjoy playing. You’ve already got some good feelings starting before you get going.’’

Holmes, who does not have a hulking build, has uncanny distance off the tee. He said he always remembers since he was a youth hitting it farther than anyone else.

“I was always pretty long for my age group, so when we started playing I think I was hitting it around 300 yards when I was 13,’’ he said. “When I was younger, I never felt like anybody could hit it further than me. I’ve always been hitting it past people, but when you get into college and you’re still hitting it past all the really good players, you figure out that, ‘Wow, maybe I’m really long.’

“When I came out on Tour I feel like I was almost 20 by almost everybody.’’


The most fun hole to watch at Riviera this week is the 274-yard par-4, a classic risk-reward hole that tempts the players to try to drive the green, but with a diabolical green that’s difficult to hold and is well-guarded by bunkers.

“This is possibly the best drivable par-4 in the world, here at Riviera, the 10th,’’ Rory McIlroy said Wednesday. “It’s just as easy to make a 6 as it is to make a 3, but all the statistics suggest that if you do go for the green, you’re going to play the hole point-three of a shot lower than if you lay up. All the statistics suggest that it’s a hole to go for.’’

Justin Thomas, however, said he takes a more conservative approach to No. 10 — despite the statistical data.

“Personally, I’ve always laid up on that hole,’’ Thomas said. “I’ll go for it to that front pin, but I’ve laid up ever since I’ve been on Tour. I mean, the way I look at it is: I try to make par on the hole and if I happen to make one birdie, then I beat the field for the week I would think.”

“I’ve had anything from 4-iron to 6-iron off the tee kind of up that left side of the fairway. It’s not a very hard wedge shot as long as you can just get your number right. That’s just how I’ve always looked at it. I’ve never looked at the numbers because my miss with a 3-wood or sometimes driver is right and right’s no good up there. I’m just trying to make 4 and maybe sprinkle a 3 or two.’’