Bill Nichols

Monday, August 22, 2011

J.B. Holmes to have brain surgery, will miss three months

J.B. Holmes will be sidelined for three months because of brain surgery. Recently diagnosed with Chiari malformations, he will undergo sugery on Sept. 1 at Johns Hopkins University Hospital.

Chiari malformations are structural defects in the cerebellum, which controls balance. When the indented bony space at the lower rear of the skull is smaller than normal, the cerebellum and brainstem can be pushed downward. Resulting pressure can cause a range of symptoms such as dizziness, muscle weakness, numbness, vision problems, headache, and trouble with balance and coordination.

Holmes began experiencing vertigo-like symptoms at the Players Championship in May. After seeing numerous specialists, his diagnosis was confirmed last week at Johns Hopkins, and surgery was mandated.

Holmes, who lives in Louisville, Ky., said in a release that he expects to begin chipping and putting within 30 days, and hitting full shots within two months. He expects to be back in competitive form in 90 days.

“I was really looking forward to the playoffs this year and improving on my 31st-place finish from 2010,” said Holmes, a two-time winner who was ranked No. 66 in the standings entering the playoffs, which begin on Thursday with the Barclays. ``But with a three-month recovery before I can get back to form, we decided that the sooner I can get this procedure done, the better.

“I know when people hear ‘brain surgery’ it conjures up all kinds images, but this a relatively low-risk surgery and only takes about an hour and a half. Best of all, there’s a very high success rate in fixing the condition. It’s just such a relief to know that there’s a name for what I’ve been going through these past few months and that I have a good chance of getting back to golf and to my regular life.''

Holmes tied for sixth at the Players, one of five top-10 finishes. He had made the cut in his first 10 starts, but then his performance started slipping with the onset of Chiari symptoms. He finished T59 and T47 at the Travelers Championship and AT&T National, respectively, then missed the cut at the British Open and the Greenbrier Classic, and withdrew from the PGA Championship.

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