Billy Reed: J.B. Holmes remarkable Open Championship run unfolding without service dog

Billy Reed: J.B. Holmes remarkable Open Championship run unfolding without service dog
Ace didn't get to make the trip to the U.S. Open.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Hey, Ace. Quit whimpering into your dog dish and feeling sorry for yourself. I know you miss your pal, J.B. Holmes, but you really need to pay attention to what he’s doing in the Open Championship at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland.

We know you have been Holmes’ service dog for years, helping him deal with vertigo and other after-effects of three brain surgeries. We know the PGA pro from Campbellsville, Ky., misses you as much as you miss him.

“Ace has his green service-dog vest when he’s in the airport,” Holmes told the Open media. “As soon as we get on the plane, he lies down and goes to sleep. He’s been doing it since he was little, so he’s used to it.”

Alas, however, there was no room for a Goldendoodle on traveling squad for Royal Portrush.

“Usually, coming over to a different country, you’ve got to – dogs get into quarantine,” Holmes said. “They just changed that rule. There’s a lot of extra paperwork to go overseas.”

Now, Ace, you shouldn’t get jealous because J.B.’s wife, Erica, a graduate of Louisville’s Assumption High School, got to make the trip and you didn’t. She also left their 18-month-old son, Tucker Bradley, at home in Bradenton, Fla. (Holmes hasn’t lived in Campbellsville for years).

In your heart of doggy hearts, you know he needs Erica even more than he needs you. She was working as nurse when they met in Louisville in 2010. Incredibly, she also had survived three brain surgeries.

Besides – and let’s be honest here, Ace – you know as well as anybody that nobody expected Holmes to do what he has done this week. Since joining the PGA Tour out of the University of Kentucky in 2005, he has won zero major championships and only five Tour events.

Until now, he was best remembered in the golf world for the leadership role that he and fellow Kentuckian Kenny Perry played in the 2008 U.S. Ryder Cup team’s upset of Europe at Valhalla outside Louisville.

I’m sure you remember that one, Ace. You were there and Erica still was two years from meeting J.B. After they began dating, she admitted she thought the Ryder Cup was a horse race.

But this week J.B. has sent the international golf media searching for information on him. You will be happy to know, Ace, that you were mentioned in a lot of stories. So was the fact that J.B. made the Taylor County High School golf team when he was in the third grade and lettered for 10 years, which has to be a record.

Truth be told, my furry friend, you would be amazed at how J.B. has played this week. He shot a near-perfect 66 in the first round and followed it with a 68 in the second to share the halfway lead with Shane Lowry.

He has been a thinking man’s golfer, instead of just a guy who could knock the thing to where Neil Armstrong stood on July 20, 1969.

He’s showing the talent that has earned $25 million on the Tour. That’s not bad considering that he was pretty much out of action for six years fighting his brain condition, which was diagnosed as Chiari malformations.

That required removing a small section of his skull, and it also required a second surgery to deal with his allergic reaction to the adhesive used in the first procedure. About there is where you came on the scene, Ace. Holmes needed you to help with his balance.

Throughout the British Open, your buddy has looked remarkably calm. He probably will look the same if he shoots himself out of contention. It could be because his brain surgeries, along with you and Erica, have given him a different perspective about golf.

J.B. told the media that you got to hear his voice during Facetime visits with his son. You are not here, Ace, but you certainly are not forgotten.

“You know, I miss my son and I miss my dog,” Holmes said. “But we’re here for a few more days and then we get to go back and see them.”

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