Americans Steve Marino and D.A. Points charged into a share of the lead in the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am on Thursday as three-times champion Phil Mickelson made an erratic start.
Marino birdied three of his last four holes for a seven-under-par 65 at Spyglass Hill, one of three venues being used this week, while Points opened with a seven-under 63 at Monterey Peninsula.
Germany’s Alex Cejka, who recorded the first albatross of the PGA Tour season when he holed out with a three-wood from 240 yards at the par-five 10th, his opening hole, was next best after firing a six-under 64 at Monterey.
World No. 4 Mickelson, however, mixed three birdies with four bogeys, two of them in his last five holes, to card a one-over 71 at Monterey.
“It was the best start I’ve ever had,” Cejka, who covered his first four holes in a sizzling five under, told reporters. “I hit a really good drive on 10 and I was between a five-wood and three-wood. I choked down a little bit on the three-wood and hit a really good shot down the left-hand side. It carried just short of the green, bounced up and took a break towards the hole. There were like three or four marshals up there and they started screaming, and suddenly it was in the hole. It’s the first one [albatross] for me. I’m very happy.”
Marino was delighted with his round, despite his failure to birdie any of the four par-five holes.
“I played great and made a few putts,” he said after a flawless display highlighted by seven birdies in near-perfect scoring conditions. “I’m real thrilled about it. I got off to a real good start. I was hitting fairways and lots of greens and gave myself a lot of looks on the first nine holes. And then I kind of hit a rough patch for a little bit in the middle of the round, but I saved [bogey with] some nice pars and finished great.”
For Points, the highlight of his day was playing alongside American actor and comedian Bill Murray in the pro-am format.
“I’ve wanted to play with him for a few years now,” Points said after carding eight birdies and one bogey. “Bill is from Illinois and I’m from Illinois as well, so we have that in common. I know people talk about his antics and call him a showman while he’s out there, making lots of comments and talking while people are getting ready to hit shots. It really loosens me up and makes me, between shots, not grind so hard on what I’m doing. It helps me take a little bit of a breather between shots and joke around with him.”
Among the bigger names -competing in the sixth event of the PGA Tour season, three-times major winner Padraig Harrington and former world No. 1 Vijay Singh opened with matching 69s at Pebble Beach.
Davis Love III, playing in his 25th consecutive Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, carded a 70 while fellow American Dustin Johnson, champion here for the last two years, returned a 71.