Webb shortens up, ties for lead

Webb Simpson played for the first time on the PGA Tour with a conventional putter and shot 8-under-par 62 to tie Paul Casey of England for the lead after one round of the Sony Open in Hawaii at Waialae Country Club in Honolulu.

With the ban on the belly putter he has used since he was at Wake Forest coming next year, Simpson decided it was time to make the switch and collected birdies on eight of his last 10 holes to shoot 7-under 28 while finishing on the front nine.

“Today was a big day for me,” said Simpson, who won the 2012 U.S. Open at the Olympic Club in San Francisco. “I was extremely nervous, (my) first round on the PGA Tour with a short putter. It was one of my best putting rounds I’ve ever had, to be honest.

“I’ve been putting well with it, but it’s easy to putt well at your home course playing with your buddies. So today there was a lot of pressure. Didn’t sleep that great last night, but had a good morning, talked to my wife, good warmup, and it was big to see a few putts go in early. Real thankful for how the day unfolded.”

Casey, who said he has given up membership on the European Tour this season to play a full schedule on the PGA Tour, also started on the back nine and had five consecutive birdies through No. 3 among his total of nine.

Camilo Villegas of Colombia collected six birdies while playing the front nine in 29, but only one more on the back in a bogey-free 63 and was tied for third with Robert Streb, who had seven birdies and an eagle on the ninth hole.

Rory Sabbatini of South Africa birdied the last two holes to shoot 64 and was in solo fifth.

Jason Day of Australia posted a 65 and was tied for sixth with Matt Kuchar, J.J. Henry John Peterson, Jonathan Randolph  and Tim Clark of South Africa.

Defending champion Jimmy Walker, who lost in a playoff to Patrick Reed last week in the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, was tied for 12th at 66.

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