Padraig Harrington finished the opening day atop the leaderboard in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. The only problem was that his name was alongside that of 14-handicap amateur partner JP McManus.
The pro-am specialists posted a 13 under par 57 at Monterey Peninsula Country Club to share the joint lead the amateur competition alongside tournament co-leader Danny Lee and his amateur Steve Green.
New Zealander Lee fired a nine under 63 at Pebble Beach to hit the front before being joined at the top by Charlie Wi, who carded a 61 on the Monterey Peninsula course to put Harrington’s two under 68 in perspective.
Two time AT&T champin Dustin Johnson then hit a 63 at Pebble Beach to join them in taking a one-stroke lead over Ken Duke (PB) and Brian Harman.
Harrington finished the day tied for 41st, which was a big improvement on his position after nine holes.
The Dubliner got off to an awful start in an event he must win to be absolutely sure of climbing into the top 65 in the world rankings who have until Sunday to qualify for the World Golf Championship Accenture Match Play in Arizona in a fortnight.
The world No 93 went out in two over 38 but came back in four-under 30 to undo some of the damage he had inflicted on a day of low scoring on the spectacular Pacific coast south of San Francisco.
He bogeyed his opening hole, the par-five 10th, when he took four to get down from greenside sand.
After a three-putt par at the par-five 12th, he then followed a birdie at the short 14th with back-to-back bogeys at the 15th, where he failed to chip and putt, and the 16th, where he was bunkered in two off a poor tee shot.
Turning for home, Harrington found another gear and birdied the first and second and the par-five sixth - he was originally credited with an eagle there by the official scorer - before ending his day with a birdie two at the ninth.
Of the top 25 scores, 10 came at Pebble Beach and eight at Monterey Peninsula with just seven at the more difficult Spyglass Hill, where Tiger Woods had six birdies in a four under 68 that left him tied for 15th on his 2012 PGA Tour debut.
Harrington and his 14-handicap partner McManus will be in action at Pebble Beach at 10.01 am local time on Friday (18.01).
And while they are going brilliantly in the team competition, the professional half of their partnership knows that he needs to go low to have any chance of contending for the title on Sunday.
Twice winners of the Alfred Dunhill Links, McManus and Harrington certainly had the better of their fourball duel with multi-millionaire businessman Dermot Desmond and pro Charley Hoffman, who could only manage a six under par 64 to their 57.
As for Woods, he hit 11 of 14 fairways and 15 of 18 greens in regulation in shooting a four-under 68 at Spyglass Hill that included six birdies (three on par 5s), two bogeys and 29 putts.
“All in all, I should think he’s pretty pleased with it,” said TV pundit Nick Faldo.
Phil Mickelson shot a two under 70 at Spyglass Hill.