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Harrington fires 63 to lead Nissan field

Friday, February 16, 2007

(Photo)
Tom Lehman, back left, Dean Wilson and Corey Pavin look for Lehman's ball Thursday on the third hole during the first round of the Nissan Open at Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles. Lehman recorded a double-bogey on the hole.
(MATT SAYLES ~ Associated Press)
Padraig Harrington is a newcomer to the Nissan Open, still not sure when to hit the brakes and when to fire at the flags. He chose the latter Thursday and zoomed past Phil Mickelson and everyone else at Riviera with an 8-under 63.

Harrington opened with three straight birdies. He ran off four in a row after making the turn, and even picked one up on the tough 15th hole when his 5-iron hit the pin and settled 4 feet away. The Irish star's only bogey on the back nine came from a three-putt on the par-3 14th.

It gave him a three-shot lead over Mickelson, Briny Baird and Pat Perez. Jim Furyk, Sergio Garcia and David Howell were among those in the group at 67 on a spectacular day of sunshine and shotmaking on the storied course off Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles.

Six players failed to finish the first round when it was too dark to continue; they will finish this morning.

Mickelson played with Ernie Els, one of several international stars making their '07 PGA Tour debut. The Big Easy labored to keep the ball in the fairway, but escaped with enough clutch pars for a 69.

LPGA Tour

Paula Creamer shot a 5-under 67 on Thursday for a share of the first-round lead with rookie Paige Mackenzie and veteran Sherri Steinhauer in the LPGA Tour's season-opening SBS Open in Kahuku, Hawaii.

Julieta Granada, the winner of the season-ending ADT Championship, was a stroke back at 68 along with Natalie Gulbis, Sung Ah Yim and Wendy Ward. The group at 69 included Morgan Pressel, Juli Inkster, Yu Ping Lin, Janice Moodie, Irene Cho, Alena Sharp, Hee-Won Han and Stacy Prammanasudh.

-- The Associated Press


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