J.B. Holmes hits his tee shot to 12 feet on the 181-yard, par-3 14th hole and sinks the putt for birdie.
PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. -- Birdies on four of his first five holes Thursday afternoon have spirited J.B. Holmes to the top of the leaderboard at the Northern Trust Open.
To see Holmes playing well at Riviera should come as no surprise, though. After all, he was one of a PGA TOUR-record nine players tied for the first-round lead here a year ago on the way to a tie for 12th.
Not to mention, the big-hitting man from Kentucky finished seventh or higher at the Northern Trust Open in each of the three previous years.
That said, though, Holmes is on the comeback trail after having surgery to repair a Chiari malformation in his brain. This is his fourth start and the results have been mixed with a pair of missed cuts and a tie for 45th in Phoenix two weeks ago.
Holmes got off to a positive start, though, when he hit his drive on the 315-yard, par-4 10th to the left of the green and chipped to 5 feet for his first birdie. He made a 6-footer at the par-5 11th and added 12-footers at Nos. 12 and 14.
He’s one stroke ahead of Jonathan Byrd, who is the clubhouse leader with a 68, and Stewart Cink, who is 3 under through his first four holes.