Holmes (64) leads Hero; Tiger returns with 73

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Tiger Woods

J.B. Holmes leads the Hero World Challenge following a round of 8-under 64, but Thursday was dominated by the return of the tournament host and 14-time major winner Tiger Woods, who started out on fire but faltered on the back nine to post 1-over 73. Here’s where things stand through 18 holes in Albany:  

Leaderboard: Holmes (-8), Hideki Matusyama (-7), Dustin Johnson (-6), Henrik Stenson (-5), Matt Kuchar (-5), Louis Oosthuizen (-5), Rickie Fowler (-4), Jordan Spieth (-4)

What it means: Holmes, a member of the victorious U.S. Ryder Cup team in September, is searching for his fifth career win and first since the 2015 Shell Houston Open. It’s all part of a remarkable comeback from multiple brain surgeries in 2011. He leads by one over Matsuyama, who’s won three times in the last six weeks including the WGC-HSBC Champions, and by two over reigning Player of the Year Dustin Johnson, who chased down Holmes in the final round at Doral in 2015.

Round of the day: After an opening bogey, Holmes played the rest of the golf course 9 under with 7 birdies and an eagle at the par-5 11th. Using his length to his advantage, Holmes played Albany’s five par 5s in 5 under.

Best of the rest: Like Holmes, Matsuyama played 17 holes with seven birdies and an eagle. His only slip-up was a double bogey-5 at the par-3 eighth.

Biggest disappointment: It’s somewhat strange considering the 15-month layoff, but after his blistering start, it’s Tiger. Woods went out and wowed, making four birdies across his first eight holes to take a share of the early lead at 4 under. And then the wheels came off. A 3-under 33 appeared a most promising start but his bogey at the par-5 ninth, featuring a pitch-out and chunked chip, proved a sign of what was to come across a scattershot second nine. After a bogey and birdie at 11 and 15, Woods finished double bogey-par-double bogey on his final three holes – he took an unplayable from a bush on 16 and found the water off the tee at 18 – to settle for a disappointing 1-over 73.

Shots of the day: Not one, but two chip-ins from Jordan Spieth. This for eagle at 9:

And this for birdie at 13:

Quote of the day: “It could have been something really good today.” - Woods