Sergio Garcia shone in California but it was Matt Kuchar who produced a blemish-free seven under par 64 to lead by one on the first day of the Northern Trust Open.
Kuchar began his round with three successive birdies and picked up four more along the way to claim a one-shot lead over Spain's Garcia.
"It's always fun to have bogey free days, especially around this golf course," Kuchar said. "I just drove it well today which is a big key around here.
"The greens are pretty tricky and pretty firm this year, so coming out of the rough, it's difficult to get a ball to stop close to the hole.
"Coming out of the fairway is a key thing to play some good golf, so we are driving it well and I played some nice golf today."
Starting at the tenth, Garcia also picked up shots on his first three holes and would have sat alongside Kuchar at the head of the field but for a bogey at the 13th.
One shot behind Garcia on five under was Brandt Jobe, with a group of three men on four under headed by England's David Lynn.
Last year's runner-up at the US PGA Championship was right in the mix in a share of fourth alongside James Hahn and Charlie Beljan.
He began his day with a birdie on his opener at the par four tenth.
The 39 year old picked up further strokes at two of the three par fives before birdies at the third and fifth had him on course to keep pace with Kuchar.
A bogey at the par four seventh slowed Lynn but he maintained his position to go into the clubhouse three shots adrift.
Lynn was the standout performer on a good day for the British contingent.
Lee Westwood was three under, Luke Donald and Greg Owen two under and Brian Davis was one under.
Defending champion Bill Haas was in the mix on one under.
Play ended with 18 men yet to complete their rounds because of fog and darkness.