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In brief: Harrington gets off to solid start

Padraig Harrington was just three shots off the early clubhouse lead after shooting a 69 in his first round of the year on the US Tour.

Harrington had five birdies on his card as he played Spyglass Hill, probably the hardest of the three courses on the AT&T National Pro-Am roster, in three-under-par yesterday.

Yet the Dubliner had a close-up view of the sweet 65 which propelled American Steve Marino into the early clubhouse lead on seven-under.

While Harrington slipped up with bogeys at 12 (his third yesterday) and eight at Spyglass, his playing companion Marino played faultlessly.

Marino's performance is best measured by the birdies he landed at six and eight, recognised as two of the most daunting holes in US golf.

It wasn't surprising to see Marino and his amateur partner, Irish entrepreneur Dermot Desmond, close to the top of the Pro-Am team leaderboard on nine-under, six ahead of Harrington and JP McManus.

Marino led Alex Cejka by one in the clubhouse. The German opened his tournament with an albatross two at the par-five 10th at Monterey Peninsula Country Club and went on to complete a six-under-par 64.

Tom Gillis and Gary Woodland were the early pacesetters at Pebble Beach with sweet rounds of five-under-par 67. Phil Mickelson opened with a one-over-par 71 at Monterey Peninsula.

Caldwell birdie blitz just fails in Murcia

JONATHAN CALDWELL finished with a fabulous hat-trick of birdies, but still was one stroke shy of course record-breaker Florian Fritsch in a thrilling climax to the 54-hole Hi5 Tour El Valle Open in Murcia, spain.

Former Walker Cup ace Caldwell shared second place on 10-under with Spanish European Tour veteran Miguel Angel Martin after his final round of one-under-par 70. The Clandeboye man banked €2,353.

Neil O'Briain (73) tied 26th on one-over, Michael McGeady (73) was 30th on two-over and Dara Lernihan tied 40th on eight-over after a second successive 76.

Wheels come off on Coakley's home trip

IT was an astonishing tale of two halves for Ireland's Rebecca Coakley in yesterday's first round of the ANZ RACV Masters at the Royal Pines Resort on Australia's Golf Coast.

After playing the front nine in a faultless four-under par, the wheels came off for the Carlow woman as she came home in four-over, slipping back into a tie for 83rd place, six off the lead.

Irish Independent