Trio set the pace in California
Last updated: 19th January 2013
Jason Kokrak, Roberto Castro and James Hahn carded nine-under-pars 63s to share the lead on day one of the Humana Challenge.
The PGA West's Arnold Palmer Private Course in California certainly played well with putting fairly easy as Kokrak filled in two eagles and five birdies on his card while his fellow leaders made nine birdies without dropping shots.
"The course over at La Quinta is in great shape," Kokrak, who is ranked 244th in the world, said. "Greens are not overly fast, so you can be somewhat aggressive out there. The greens are holding. So you can be aggressive with the iron shots out there."
Although he made his debut at the course Hahn managed to get two chip-ins for birdies - the first time in his career that he has managed to achieve it.
"I think a lot of the times, we as professionals, try to take in too much information," he said. "Some of my best rounds have come from not even seeing a golf course for the first time. It gives me tunnel vision ... I just know fairway, green and try to make a putt."
PGA Tour rookie Russell Henley, who won the Sony Open on Sunday, is hot on the heels of the leaders as he is one shot behind and tied with Greg Chalmers, Aaron Baddeley and Dough LaBelle.
"I'm feeling very confident," Henley said. "I definitely wasn't going to be upset either way ... The last thing I want to do is waste any energy and be emotional right now. I think I've got to conserve all my emotions and my energy as much as I can so I can play another full golf tournament."
Ricky Barnes, Ryan Palmer, Jerry Kelly and Charley Hoffman are among a group of nine on 65 while Charles Howell III, Mike Weir, Brandt Snedeker, Stuart Appleby and Justin Leonard are another two shot back.
It was a tough day back at the office for Phil Mickelson, who was playing in his first tournament of 2013, as he was forced to settle for an even-par 72.
The four-time major champion not only struggled with flu-like symptoms, but also on the greens as he made 30 putts in a round that included three birdies, one bogey and a double bogey.
"My timing and rhythm was off a little bit today," Mickelson said.
"My putter was atrocious and I've been putting great (in practice) too, so that was disappointing. I know that it's there even though the results today were not good. I'm looking forward to playing tomorrow.
"I birdied the last hole and hit some decent shots coming in but (going) out-of-bounds on 10 and (missing) four, five, six-footers, that has prevented me from having a good round today."
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