Phil Mickelson (Getty Images)
Phil Mickelson rode the conditions to lead the way at the end of the first day of the Northern Trust Open in Pacific Palisades, California.
The four-time Major winner, who tasted success at Pebble Beach last weekend, started his campaign to win back-to-back titles with a five under 66 on day one, putting him a shot clear of JB Holmes and Hunter Mahan.
On a blustery day, the left-hander had been tied for the lead with the pair until the final hole, when he chipped in from 35 feet for a sixth birdie of the day.
Jonathan Byrd and Sweden’s Carl Pettersson are a shot further back, while English duo Luke Donald and Justin Rose are both handily placed on one under.
Play was suspended early due to darkness with all but a handful of rounds complete, leaving Mickelson the happiest man in the clubhouse.
"It feels really good to get that one extra shot because I felt like I left one or two out on 16, 17, and you hate to have such a good round and let a few slide late," he said.
"It was a challenging day today because Riviera doesn't give you great opportunities to run balls onto the green.
"That kikuyu grabs it so you really have to fly it on. Fortunately the greens were somewhat receptive, and that's why I think the scores weren't extremely high. A lot of them were right around par."
Also in the mix towards the top of the leaderboard is Sergio Garcia who is one of eight players grouped together on two under, with the likes of Stewart Cink and KJ Choi alongside him.
Three-time Major winner Padraig Harrington was one over with two holes to play when darkness fell.