The first round of the Humana Challenge is complete, and the trio of Roberto Castro, Jason Kokrak, and James Hahn lead at 9-under. While the two biggest names in the game play overseas in Abu Dhabi, there are still plenty of world class players on hand in Palm Springs for the birdie fest formerly known as the Bob Hope.
Phil Mickelson is the biggest star in attendance, starting his 2013 season with an even-par round of 72 on the La Quinta Course. Mickelson is reportedly battling the flu, an illness that's plagued several players in the first month of the season, and he was certainly not sharp on the opening day. At this event, even-par simply won't cut it, with a scoring average below 70 in Round 1. The Bob Hope has long been known as one of, if not the easiest event throughout the season and Mickelson will need to start rolling in some birdies on Friday to get back in it.
One player who has stayed hot with the putter is Russell Henley. The rookie, who won in his first ever PGA Tour start last week at the Sony Open, is just one shot off the pace at 8-under. Henley was unconscious with the flatstick last week, firing three rounds of 63 and closing with an inward Sunday 29. He was first in nearly every putting category at Waialae, but it would certainly be understood if the rookie throttled down a bit coming off that high. That wasn't the case on Thursday, and he's put himself in position to go back-to-back.
Over 120 players are in red figures, and with scoring conditions ideal, anyone can jump to the top of the leaderboard with a Friday charge. Zach Johnson, Ricky Barnes, Bo Van Pelt, Stewart Cink, and Patrick Cantlay are some of the big names inside the top 20, but there will obviously be plenty of shuffling in the final three rounds.
For a complete live leaderboard visit Golf.com.