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February 19 2012

6:47 PM

And we’re off–three birdies at No. 1

PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif – Fred Couples, who missed the cut on Friday, and Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, who is the probable No. 1 draft pick in April’s NFL draft, were among the throng behind the first tee at  Riviera when Phil Mickelson, Keegan Bradley and Bryce Molder teed off.

Denver quarterback Tim Tebow and Phillip Rivers of Mickelson’s San Diego Chargers are also expected. No sightings yet, though. The two have been working out this week with UCLA’s Noel Mazzone, the Bruins’ offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.

Mickelson, Bradley and Molder all found the fairway, and as they walked down the huge hill from the Riviera clubhouse, fans shouted their encouragement.

“C’mon, three-time winner,” one yelled to Mickelson, who won the Northern Trust Open in 2008 and ‘09.

“Way to crush it, big guy,” came another as Mickelson bounded down the steps about 20 feet in front of Bradley, who was greeted by a more provincial cheer.

“Westford, Mass., Keegan, Westford, Mass,” a young man standing by the gallery ropes said when the murmurs had died down. Bradley, wearing a bright red shirt, looked over at the kid and gave him a thumb’s up.

All three players chipped on and made birdie on the par-5 – Bradley rolling in a 5-footer while Mickelson’s came from 22 inches and Molder’s from 17 inches.

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