Singh tries to find his old head and his old form
HONOLULU (AP) To look at his scorecard, it would appear Vijay Singh relied heavily on his putter in the first round of the Sony Open. He made birdie putts from 50 feet, 30 feet and two from 20 feet. To listen to the big Fijian, his opening round had more to do with a book.
Singh, who turns 53 next month, brought an aggressive attitude to the opening round Thursday and shot 7-under 63 for a five-way share of the lead.
''There's a book that I've always carried for the last 20 years, and I haven't read it for the last 10 years,'' he said. ''So I picked it up yesterday and started reading a few of the things that I've been doing. And it's just a different mindset.''
It allowed him to attack the golf course instead of trying to hit fairways and make a good swing.
The name of the book?
''I can't tell you,'' he said. ''I'd have to kill you.''
He laughed, always a good sign.
Smiles came easily on the first day at Waialae, which featured island warmth, plenty of sunshine and a mild breeze that led to low scoring. Singh was tied with Morgan Hoffmann and Ricky Barnes, with Brandt Snedeker and Kevin Kisner joining them in the afternoon.
And maybe the warm sun made everyone feel younger. Three players in their 50s – Singh, Fred Funk and Davis Love III – all shot 66 or better.
The bad news? Rain was in the forecast for Friday.
CHASING HISTORY: Vijay Singh hasn't won on the PGA Tour since 2008 at the Deutsche Bank Championship, which effectively wrapped up the FedEx Cup.
By opening with a 63, he opened the possibility of entering the PGA Tour record book as the oldest winner in history.
The record belongs to Sam Snead, who won the Greater Greensboro Open in 1965 at 52 years, 10 months and 8 days. Singh will be 52 years, 10 months and 26 days when the Sony Open ends on Sunday.
Having been around that long, however, brings some perspective. The tournament is just getting started.
''See what the next three days bring,'' he said.
SENIOR TUNEUP: Anyone in Hawaii who looks at the scores might wonder if the Champions Tour is being played on the wrong island.
The 50-and-older circuit starts the 2016 season next week on the Big Island, though it was represented nicely on Oahu. Singh was tied for the lead at 63. Fred Funk, who turns 60 this summer, was trying to catch him until a bogey on the 16th hole. Funk shot a 65.
Davis Love III made two tough putts at the end of the round for a 66. Love is 51, and last August won the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro to become the third-oldest winner on the PGA Tour behind Snead and Art Wall.
Sing, Funk and Love are sticking around next week to play the Champions Tour.
SNEDEKER AND KISNER: Snedeker and Kisner have been playing golf together for more than a decade, dating back to college (Kisner at Georgia, Snedeker at Vanderbilt). They both have superb short games. Neither of them takes long to hit the ball.
And they both had similar rounds. Snedeker chipped in for eagle on the 10th to catch him at 5 under. Snedeker birdied the 12th, Kisner birdied the 13th, Snedeker bogeyed the 14th, bounced back with birdies on the 15th and 16th, and Kisner birdied the 18th. They had a best-ball score of 57.
THE OTHER RICKY: Ricky Barnes won the U.S. Amateur in 2002, opened with a 69 at the Masters the next year as an amateur and was runner-up at the U.S. Open in 2009 at Bethpage Black. And then he was no longer the most famous Ricky on the PGA Tour.
Rickie Fowler turned pro later that year.
Barnes is still looking for his first PGA Tour victory in his 206th start. He made a swing change 18 months ago because he was relying too much on athleticism and now has a more repeatable golf swing. He believes it will pay off. Maybe this is the week.
ODDS & ENDS: Defending champion Jimmy Walker opened with a 69 in his bid to win the Sony Open for the third straight year. He was six shots behind. A year ago, he was four shots behind after the first round at Waialae and won by nine. … Tim Clark has used a long putter anchored to his chest his entire year. The ban on anchored strokes began on Jan. 1, and in his first round Clark shot 66. Carl Pettersson also has used a long putter since college. He shot a 71. … Robert Allenby returned to the Sony Open to find closure over an incident in which his forehead was bloodied, his wallet and cellphone was taken and he has no memory of what happened. He found the driving range with his opening tee shot, out-of-bounds and lead to triple bogey. He played even par the rest of the way for a 73.