Harrington sparkles in Tinseltown

By Brian Keogh

Padraig Harrington sparkled in Tinsel Town to grab the clubhouse lead in the Nissan Open at Riviera.

The Dubliner lit up Los Angeles as he reeled off TEN birdies in a brilliant eight under par 63 - equalling his lowest ever score on the PGA Tour to move three clear of Phil Mickelson at the top.

World No 4 Mickelson posted a super 66 and No 2 Jim Furyk a solid 67. But they were made to look positively pedestrian as the red-hot Irish star produced a sensational performance in his first competitive round on the course.

Delighted with his opening effort, Harrington said: "There was a little bit of ignorance out there because I don't know the pitfalls of the course and I am sure some of them will catch me later in the week.

"But today everything went right and if I didn't hit it in A1 position I didn't short side myself. It takes a lot experience to play this golf course but I got it right for 18 holes today.

"I still feel like it is early season for me and while today was a very good day they are not all going to be like this. Hopefully come Sunday I will still be there."

The world No 10 got got off to a rip-roaring start with four birdies in his first five holes at the historic Pacific Palisades track.

A pitch to two feet at the par-five first got him up and running and he followed that with an approach to four feet at the second.

Seeking his first PGA Tour win since 2005, the European No 1 rapped home a 13 footer at the third and a nine footer at the fifth to go four under.

He explained: "I started each nine with a few birdies and that always helps. If you are struggling at level par you feel like you are trying to hold on to something. But I was always trying to go forward and the putts were dropping.":

Averaging nearly 300 yards off the tee, Harrington missed just three greens in regulation but got up and down for par at all bar one and had just 26 putts.

That first bogey came at the tricky eighth, where he drove into the rough, failed to make the green and eventually had to hole a six footer for bogey.

But he was soon back on the birdie trail, racking up six in seven holes from the 10th on his way to a brilliant back nine of 31.

A pitch to four feet at the par five 10th put him four under and tied for the lead with Furyk and Eric Axley.

But his long game was in super shape and after a two- putt birdie at the par-five 11th, he rolled home an 18 footer at the 12th and a 12 footer at the par three 13th before an untimely three-putt at from 40 feet at the 13th.

A missed four footer there led to his second bogey but that was erased quickly at the next when he hit the pin from 197 yards and watched the ball stop four feet away.

He then rolled in an 18 footer at the par three 16th and got up and down from greenside rough at the last to lead the $5.2 million event.

Fellow Dubliner Paul McGinley was among the late starters.