California - Derek Lamely fired a nine-under par 63 Wednesday to seize the first-round lead at the US PGA Tour's Bob Hope Classic, one stroke in front of Jhonattan Vegas and JJ Henry.
Lamely, who teed off on the 10th hole of the Palmer Private course - one of four in use for the five-day event - got hot coming home with an eagle and five birdies from the second to seventh holes.
Lamely is seeking a second career victory. He put himself in contention for rookie of the year honors last season with his victory in the Puerto Rico Open.
But he was well aware that in a 90-hole event on birdie-friendly courses, a first-round lead was tenuous.
"This is going to be definitely not a sprint," Lamely said. "The golf courses are perfect. The weather is just so good. You've just got to go out and stay aggressive every hole.
"Hopefully you can get hot and make a bunch of putts, and I actually got that going today."
Venezuela's Vegas had nine birdies in his eight-under 64 on the Palmer course, while Henry notched his 64 on the Nicklaus Private course.
Six players were a further shot back on 65.
Lamely's six-hole run from the second was the best stretch on the US tour since Brandt Snedeker put together an eight-under, seven-hole string in 2007 at Torrey Pines.
He said his main goal in the early going this season was to notch a victory in time to qualify for the first major of the year, the Masters at Augusta National in April.
"At the end of last year, I started hitting it good, and I've been hitting it better and better as it goes on," Lamely said.
"I keep getting better at the few things I've changed, so it's finally getting to the point where I can think my way around and just make some putts."
Henry holed a 132-yard wedge shot on his first hole at the Nicklaus course. He nabbed six birdies in eight holes around the turn.
"I've probably never been this excited to start the year, both mentally and physically," said Henry, whose last title was at the 2006 Buick championship. "I really felt refreshed and ready to go."
At the first, Henry said, "I had a perfect number with the wedge. You're a little nervous, haven't played a tournament in four months, and I hit this perfect shot that never left the flag."
Vegas, a 26-year-old US tour rookie, made a superb start to his fifth US tour event, improving on the previous best round of his career by three strokes.
He made the cut last week at the Sony Open in Hawaii, but didn't get to play the final two rounds because the field reduced to ensure a Sunday finish after weather delays.
"I guess it was a little advantage not playing (in Hawaii) on Sunday, because I was able to get a flight Saturday night, and play this course on Sunday," Vegas said. "I actually got to see all four courses, which I think is huge for a rookie."
Leading first-round scores on Wednesday from the five-round, $5m US PGA Tour Bob Hope Classic (USA unless noted):
63 - Derek Lamely
64 - JJ Henry, Jhonathan Vegas (VEN)
65 - Ricky Barnes, Fredrik Jacobson (SWE), Matt McQuillan (CAN) Kyle Stanley, Boo Weekley, Gary Woodland
66 - Kris Blanks, Keegan Bradley, Chad Collins, Charles Howell, Ryuji Imada (JPN), Matt Kuchar, Shaun Micheel, John Senden (AUS), Peter Tomasulo, Bubba Watson
67 - Greg Chalmers (AUS), Chris Couch, Brian Davis (GBR), Fabian Gomez (ARG), Hunter Haas, Matt Jones (AUS), Jerry Kelly, Jeff Maggert, Joe Ogilvie, Ryan Palmer, Kenny Perry, Tim Petrovic, DA Points, Brendan Steele, Cameron Tringale
68 - Steve Elkington (AUS), Nathan Green (AUS), Martin Laird (GBR), Nick O'Hern (AUS), Brendon de Jonge (ZIM)
69 - Stephen Ames (CAN), Chris Baryla (CAN), Alex Cejka (GER)
70 - Jarrod Lyle (AUS), Rory Sabbatini (RSA)
71 - Bio Kim (KOR), Rod Pampling (AUS)
72 - Mike Weir (CAN)
73 - Jesper Parnevik (SWE)