Sony Open in Hawaii - Day 1 report

Webb Simpson hits career best score in first round with conventional putter

Webb Simpson Sony Open
Webb Simpson plays his second shot on the 15th hole during the first round of the Sony Open In Hawaii at Waialae Country Club. Credit: Getty Images
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Webb Simpson and Paul Casey tie for the opening day lead in what was already a highly significant event for both men for contrasting reasons

Webb Simpson and Paul Casey tied for the lead in the Sony Open after opening round 62s. For both players this tournament represents a new beginning.

This is the first time that Simpson had shot 62 on tour, it was also the first time since 2004 that he used a conventional putter rather than his belly one. “Today I was extremely nervous - first round on the PGA Tour with a short putter,” he admitted. “I had a couple [of Bible] verses in my yardage book that I kept reading, and I stayed calm. All thanks to God for giving me strength to just get through today.”

Simpson, who started his Sony Open at the 10th, came home in 28, to tie the front-nine record at Waialae set by Toshinori Muto in 2009. His round included a 23ft putt for birdie on the 1st hole (his 10th) and it all he made five birdie putts from more than 12ft.

“It was one of my best putting rounds I've ever had, to be honest," Simpson said. “I've been putting well with it, but it's easy to putt well at your home course playing with your biddies. So today there was a lot of pressure. Didn't sleep that great last night, but it was big to see a few putts go in early.”

Paul Casey, one of three Englishmen in the Sony Open field, was playing solely as a member of the PGA Tour, having given up his European Tour membership. For this reason he was the only past winner of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship not to be teeing it up in the 10th anniversary of that event. It was the first time in 10 years that he has played the Sony Open.

Casey’s score is remarkable in that he hit only five of 14 fairways in his round. But then so did Camilo Villegas who would have made it a three-way tie for the lead had he not missed his birdie putt on 18.

Geoff Ogilvy made his first hole-in-one on the PGA Tour when he aced the 211-yard 4th with a 5-iron, en route to a 69.

Sony Open leaderboard

Roderick Easdale

Contributing Writer Roderick is the author of the critically acclaimed comic golf novel, Summer At Tangents. Golf courses and travel are Roderick’s particular interests. He writes travel articles and general features for the magazine, travel supplement and website. He also compiles the magazine's crossword. He is a member of Trevose Golf & Country Club and has played golf in around two dozen countries. Cricket is his other main sporting love. He is also the author of five non-fiction books, four of which are still in print: The Novel Life of PG Wodehouse; The Don: Beyond Boundaries; Wally Hammond: Gentleman & Player and England’s Greatest Post-War All Rounder.