Dustin Johnson, the World No. 1 who walked off the first tee and withdrew from the Masters because of a freak back injury suffered the day before, shot a 2-under 70. It was his first round since winning the World Golf Championships Match Play on March 26 -- his third consecutive title.
"All in all, I'm very pleased with the day,'' Johnson said after registering his 13th straight round of par or better. "I knew I wasn't going to play as good. I maybe played a little more conservatively. But anything under par was going to be a good score.''
Johnson, starting at No. 10, birdied three holes on the back before recording two bogeys and a birdie on his final nine.
Molinari capped his round by chipping in for birdie at the par-5 18th hole.
"I played well and gave myself lots of chances,'' Molinari said. "I missed some makeable ones but then I holed some longer ones which is always nice. I'm really happy.''
Phil Mickelson was in a group of 22 players tied for 31st at 1-under 71. Mickelson's round featured four birdies and three bogeys.
The Wells Fargo Championship is not being contested at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, N.C., for the first time in its 14-year history. That facility is being prepared for the PGA Championship in August.