While Davis Love III ignited a debate as to whether he could play his way onto his own Ryder Cup team, Louis Oosthuizen was best placed of the South Africans in the opening round of the Honda Classic.
The 2010 Open champion carded a three-under-par 67 to trail Love by three, with a group of eight players between him and the lead which included Rory McIlory on four-under-par.
Oosthuizen, who started his year with a successful defence of his Africa Open title in East London, but slipped in the second round of last weekÂs WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, made just one bogey Â on the fifth hole as he kept himself in touch with the lead.
Defending champion Rory Sabbatini was the next best of the South Africans in the field, closing out his round at one-under-par 69. He managed to play the stretch from 15-17 Â known as the ÂBear TrapÂ at level par, making birdie on 16, but dropping a shot on the par-three 17th.
Ernie Els was one of 27 players on level-par 70 Â Lee Westwood and Stewart Cink were amongst those Â while Tiger Woods was a further shot back, together with Charl Schwartzel.
Love made a hole-in-one and finished with two birdies to tie the course record at PGA National with a 64, making him the 10th player to post that number since the Honda Classic moved to the course five years ago.
McIlroy is coming off a runner-up finish in the Accenture, and a victory will take him to number one in the world.
Woods made 34 putts, despite hitting 15 greens in regulation. He also failed to birdie either of the par-fives on the course, and only one player, Johnson Wagner, took more putts than Woods.
Love hasnÂt talked to any past Ryder Cup captains about what it would like to be a playing captain, but if he might have to after his closing 30 at Pebble Beach showed.