All eyes were on Tiger Woods, but J.B. Holmes did his best to steal the spotlight in the first round of the Hero World Challenge.
Woods, playing competitively for the first time in 16 months, faltered late in a 1-over-par 73, while Holmes posted a 64 to take a one-stroke lead over Hideki Matsuyama of Japan at Albany Resort in New Providence, Bahamas.
“When you think about it, I hit three balls in the bushes and one in the water,” said Woods, who was tied for the lead at 4-under after eight holes, but played the last 10 in 5-over. “I got off to a good start and then got it going the wrong way in the middle of the round.
” … I felt good, felt the feel of the round by the tee shot on the second hole. That was nice. I let a really good round slip away at the end. Just made some mistakes, mistakes I don’t usually make, but I hadn’t played in a while. We have three days left and I can clean that up.”
Woods, who hit several drives to the left, was still in good shape at 3-under after he made a birdie on the 15th hole, but he carded double-bogey 6s on the 16th and 18th holes, pulling his drive into the water on the last.
Tiger wound up 17th in the 18-player field, as Olympic gold medalist Justin Rose of England, nursing a back injury, was last at 74.
Holmes made his only bogey on the first hole, then reeled off eight birdies and an eagle on No. 11 the rest of the way.
“I really played well today,” said Holmes, who played the five par-5 holes in 5-under. “The par-5s are reachable and any time there are five of them you have a chance to make a good score.
“I’ve had two great years and feel I’ve really progressed. I’m looking forward to this season and hope to get a win or two.”
Matsuyama, who has won three of his last four tournaments, collected four birdies and an eagle on the 15th while shooting 6-under 30 on the back nine en route to a 65, while U.S. Open champ Dustin Johnson played the par-5s in 6-under, including an eagle at No. 6, and was third with a 66.
Henrik Stenson of Sweden, the Open champion, shot 67 and was tied for fourth with Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa and Matt Kuchar.
Jordan Spieth birdied four of the last six holes to card a 68 and was tied for seventh with Rickie Fowler of Murrieta, who had three straight birdies through No. 15.
Russell Knox of Scotland finished with 12 straight pars in a bogey-free 69 that put him in solo ninth, while PGA champion Jimmy Walker birdied the 18th hole to tie for 10th with Emiliano Grillo of Argentina at 70.
Defending champion Bubba Watson was tied for 11th at 71.