Phil Mickelson earned $25,000 with a spectacular eagle-3 on the fourth hole, while two-time defending champion Stephen Ames and Skins Game rookie Rocco Mediate were shut out on the first nine holes.
But with the foursome halving the final five holes of the front nine, $900,000 of the events $1 million purse is still alive for todays final nine holes at the Celebrity Course at Indian Wells Golf Resort.
Choi, also making his Skins Game debut, played the best golf of the group with five birdies. He halved the second hole with Mediate with birdies, then won the $75,000 on the third hole with an easy birdie while Mickelson and Ames missed the green long and Mediate missed a 90-foot birdie putt.
Mickelson nearly recorded the Skins Games first double-eagle on the 501-yard fourth hole, hitting his approach shot to within inches of the cup. The tap-in eagle earned him the $25,000 for the hole and a $25,000 home appliance and entertainment package.
The foursome struggled in the middle of the round but rallied to all make birdies on the eighth hole. Mediate rolled in a 25-foot birdie on the ninth hole but was topped when Ames made a five-foot birdie to deny Mediate $200,000. That makes the first hole on Sunday worth $250,000.