Molinari in the hunt at Riviera

2/14/2014 7:39:16 AM
Francesco Molinari  (Getty Images)
Francesco Molinari (Getty Images)

Francesco Molinari was just one shot off the lead of American Dustin Johnson following the first round at the US PGA Tour's Northern Trust Open in California.

The Italian Ryder Cup star was one of 11 players to shoot a four under par 66 at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades.

Molinari said of his round: "It was all pretty good. I had a good start and I like the way the golf course is playing. I'm pretty good usually at keeping the ball in position and made a few nice putts. So (it was a) very good start to the tournament."

Leader Johnson, who was five under after ten holes but dropped a shot on the fourth, his 13th, before regaining it on the penultimate hole, said: "I've been playing pretty good all year, so the game's right where I want it to be.

"Coming off a good week last week, I'm definitely feeling good coming in this week and then obviously getting off to a great start. Any score under par out here is a pretty solid round. It's a tough course, but it's right in front of you, so it's just a golf course that I really like."

South Africa's 2011 Masters winner Charl Schwartzel and England's former World Number One Lee Westwood all finished their opening rounds on two under, one ahead of US Open champion Justin Rose, Frenchman Victor Dubuisson, Hunter Mahan and former Open champion Ben Curtis.