Charl Schwartzel battled to a strong start at the American Express on Thursday, carding an opening-round 67 in La Quinta.
The South African teed off at the Stadium Course in the desert and showed composure early on by recovering from a bogey on the second hole to respond with three consecutive birdies on the front nine.
The 2011 Masters champion again showed great fight as he came home with four consecutive birdies on the 14th, 15th, 16th and 17th holes.
Finishing on that high meant Schwartzel ended the day on five under par and in T6, only three strokes behind leader Brandon Hagy.
The American went eight under for his first round to edge ahead of Byeong Hun An, who carded a seven-under-par 65.
After Round 1 of @TheAmExGolf:
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) January 22, 2021
Max Homa, Martin Laird and Si Woo Kim are all a further stroke back on six under par, heading into round two.
Erik van Rooyen, the only other South African in the field, settled for a two-under-par 70 to start his week off with.