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Northern Trust Open has begun

February 17, 2011 |  9:08 am

It's not raining yet and it's early, but birdies are being made as some of the contenders have navigated three or four holes of the Northern Trust Open at Riviera Country Club Thursday morning.

Showing that momentum can linger after a big win and a couple of days off, University of Illinois grad D.A. Points, through five holes, is one shot behind the leaders at one-under-par after a birdie on the par-four third hole. Points put his approach shot about eight feet from the pin and made a confident birdie putt.

Australian Michael Sim (through nine), Chris DeMarco (through eight) and Steve Marino (through six) are tied for the lead at two-under par. Three-time major winner Padraig Harrington is one of the large group at one-under.

Defending champion Steve Stricker is one-over after five holes, and two-time champion Phil Mickelson doesn't tee off until 12:12 p.m.

-- Diane Pucin