Luke Donald makes positive start but Mickelson leads in California

Luke Donald
Donald became the first player to win both the European and US Tours' money lists in 2011

World number one Luke Donald got his PGA Tour season off to a solid start with a first-round 70 in the Northern Trust Open in California.

Donald was tied ninth with fellow Englishman Justin Rose at one-under on the par-71 course.

Phil Mickelson shot a five-under par 66 to take sole possession of the lead.

"This morning it was freezing, and it was not easy [but] I'm excited about my ball-striking, the way I'm controlling the flight," said Donald.

"This course is tough so I'm pretty pleased with what I did."

Mickelson came into this tournament in Pacific Palisades with a recent win at the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am to become only the ninth player in PGA Tour history with 40 wins.

The four-time major winner coped well on a blustery day and had been tied for the lead with J.B. Holmes and Hunter Mahan until the final hole, when he chipped in from 35 feet for a sixth birdie of the day.

"It feels really good to get that one extra shot," Mickelson told www.pgatour.com. "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.

"It was a challenging day today because Riviera doesn't give you great opportunities to run balls on to the green.

"That kikuyu [grass] 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."

Holmes (67) and Mahan (67) are tied for second place at four-under.

Also in the mix towards the top of the leaderboard was Sergio Garcia, 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, but his day was considerably better than that of Scotland`s Martin Laird.

He was five over having completed the course, two better off than American Ryder Cup hopeful Anthony Kim.