Phillip Mollica shot a four-under par 68 on Wednesday at the TPC Stadium Course in LaQuinta, Calif. and stands 20th after the opening round of the final stage of the PGA Tour Qualifying tournament.
Play in the 108-hole event will continue on Thursday, with the top 25 finishers earning PGA Tour cards for 2013.
Mollica, an Anderson, S.C. native making his first appearance in the final stage of Q School, birdied three of his final five holes to finish at four-under. He trails first-round leader Stephen LeBrun by four strokes.
Two shots back of Mollica, tied for 50th place, are Vince Hatfield and Danny Ellis, who shot two-under 70s, also at the Stadium Course. Hatfield, like Mollica, is making his first appearance in the Q School final. Ellis last played on the PGA Tour in 2006 because of a series of injuries.
Also in solid position after the first round are Brian Duncan, Ben Martin and Stephen Poole. Duncan stands one-under after bouncing back from a triple bogey on his finishing nine.
Poole and Martin are tied at even-par finishing the Nicklaus Tournament Course with 72s.
D.J. Trahan, who already has partial status on the 2013 PGA Tour after finishing 132nd on the 2012 money list, shot a three-over 75 in the opening round. He had an up-and-down start, with a birdie, a bogey and a double bogey in his first five holes, and then had a string of three consecutive bogeys on his finishing nine.