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Holmes' game coming back after brain surgery

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LOS ANGELES – A little more than five months ago, surgeons were poking around in J.B. Holmes’ brain.

He keeps a piece of his skull on a window’s ledge at his home as a reminder of what he has overcome and how fortunate he is to still be playing golf.

If his fans were wondering if the surgery to correct the debilitating effects of Chiari malformations would hurt Holmes’ golf game, he had a nice answer Thursday in the first round of the Northern Trust Open at Riviera.

Holmes posted a 4-under-par 67, moving him a shot off the lead in the suspended round.

“It’s nice to get back out here and start hitting some shots like I used to hit them,” said Holmes, 29. “It’s nice to put in a good competitive round in tough conditions. It’s just nice to be back out here.”

Chiari malformations affected Holmes’ balance last year. He thought he had vertigo until he was properly diagnosed.

Holmes has missed the cut in two of his three starts since returning to play this season.

“My swing speed is slowly coming back,” Holmes said.