The 40-year-old rolled in an 18-foot putt to register a round of 64, enough to see Hicks and Holmes go two shots clear on eight-under.
The unheralded Hicks enjoyed a bogey-free round while Holmes notched up six birdies from the 10th to the 16th on the Pebble Beach course in perfect sunny conditions.
Holmes showed few signs of scarring after coming up short in a play-off last week at the Farmers Insurance Open, a tournament he will feel he should have won. The long-hitting American eagled his second hole, the 11th, and didn't look back from there.
Pebble Beach is traditionally the easiest of the three courses used from Thursday to Saturday, with Spyglass Hill Golf Course and Monterey Peninsula Country Club providing more of a test.
With this in mind, Jim Furyk, Brandt Snedeker and Chesson Hadley will be the happiest of the players one shot back, with the trio having played at Monterey Peninsula.
However, of the six players sharing second spot, it's John Daly who has stolen the headlines, with the two-time major winner's 65 his best opening round on tour since 2005.
J.J Henry and Dudley Hart round out the group on seven-under.
Defending champion Jimmy Walker struggled to get going, registering two birdies and two bogeys to finish the day on level par.
World number four Jason Day, the highest ranked player in the field, was unable to carry any momentum that may have been gained from last week's win at Torrey Pines into Thursday's round, with the Australian joining Walker on even par after a messy round that included two double bogeys.