Singh seeks to break Snead's record
The 52-year-old is in position to become the oldest champion in PGA TOUR history
January 15, 2016
- Vijay Singh has made 570 career starts on TOUR. Today's 63 ties his lowest opening round ever. (Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
HONOLULU -- A few observations following Thursday’s opening round of the Sony Open in Hawaii, where Vijay Singh, Brandt Snedeker, Kevin Kisner, Morgan Hoffmann and Ricky Barnes all share the lead at 7-under 63. For more on all the action, click here to read the Daily Wrap-Up.
1.SINGH CAN BECOME THE TOUR’S OLDEST WINNER: When Sam Snead won the 1965 Greater Greensboro Open he was 52 years, 10 months and 8 days old. Singh is just five weeks shy of turning 53.
“I didn't know what to expect,” said Singh, who won at Waialae Country Club in 2005 and hasn’t won on the PGA TOUR since 2008. “I just want to play. I feel like I can go out there and play well.”
He did Thursday, rattling off seven birdies, including two on each of his final two holes to close in 31. It helped that he took just 22 putts, including only 10 through his first nine holes.
It was Singh’s best round in three-and-a-half years, matching the 63 he shot in the opening round of the 2012 Greenbrier Classic. He went on to tie for 33rd that week.
Despite just two top 10s the last three years and being eligible for the Champions Tour, Singh isn’t ready for the over-50 circuit yet. He’s made just six combined starts the last three years on the Champions Tour, compared to 23, 25 and 19 the last three seasons on the PGA TOUR.
“I'm always looking to my next day, my next round, my next tournament,” he said. “So same this year. Hopefully this year is going to go well.
“I've been playing really well. I just haven't produced the scores. It's a good start to the tournament.”
First full field event, mid-season form in Hawaii
2. SNEDEKER IN A GROOVE: Brandt Snedeker last played the Sony Open in 2008. He’s not sure why it took him so long to get back, other than a quirk in his scheduling.
Last week, he was already in Hawaii, having played in the winners-only event in Maui, where he tied for third. Despite a vastly different venue -- Waialae is a classic, old course with tighter fairways and smaller greens -- he kept his good form going, making a half-dozen birdies, an eagle and just one bogey.
“I had pretty high expectations,” he said. “It sets up really well for me, and I played really well last week. I felt like this would be an extension of that.”
Ball-striking is what held Snedeker back in the second half of last season -- he won at Pebble Beach in mid-February, but was in contention just once the rest of the year.
This season, he has hit 73 percent of his greens -- a jump of nearly 10 percent -- and hit 13 of 18 on Thursday. He also has a new driver and new ball in the bag this year.
“I didn't drive it probably as good as I'm going to need to the rest of the week, but I got a lot out of my game today,” said Snedeker. “My iron play was fantastic. My wedge play was fantastic, and I really kind of made the best out of a round that could have gone either way.”
3. DONALD NOT READY FOR RETIREMENT: A British newspaper headline two weeks ago said Luke Donald had seriously contemplated giving up the game last May. The headline was overblown, Donald said Thursday, but the point was that the former world No. 1 was down in the dumps about his game and his future.
“You go through periods, rough periods and you doubt yourself a bit whether you can find happiness on the golf course,” he said from Waialae CC. “I had it the wrong way ‘round -- I was trying to play good golf to make me happy, rather than being happy and the good golf will come.
“I was certainly uncertain where the ball was going. I’d lost confidence around the green, which has always been my strength. I fell into the trap, instead of (to) keep doing what was working, trying to figure out something else to compete at a different level. It was all driven by trying to win majors. I felt I needed to be better driver of the golf ball to compete and have a chance to win majors. In hindsight, it was probably the wrong decision. It cost me a couple years of consistency and good golf.”
He was plenty consistent Thursday, at least in the area that was the best part of his game when he was at the top of the game. Despite hitting just eight fairways and 10 greens in regulation, Donald made four birdies, an eagle and just one bogey while taking only 24 putts. In his first start since late November in Dubai, where he tied for 13th, he shot 65 to sit just two strokes off the lead.
“It’s nice to come out here and shoot this sort of round,” he said. “My game is good enough to compete and win out here.”
4. NEW YEAR, NEW PUTTER FOR SCOTT: The anchoring ban went into effect on Jan. 1 -- Adam Scott didn’t wait that long and switched to a short putter last year.
Though he was pleased with how he played, Thursday wasn’t his best with the flat stick. Scott, the highest ranked player in the field at No. 11 in the world, missed five putts from inside 8 feet on his way to a 2-under 68.
He’s not worried. Most of the rest of his game looked good, including his ball-striking as he hit 15 greens and gave himself plenty of chances to score.
“I’m very happy with where everything’s at,” Scott said. “I wish I could’ve been three shots better today and felt I could’ve been three shots better, but (Friday) might be the day that I do that.”
5. KISNER ON A ROLL: In four previous trips to Wailae, Kevin Kisner missed the cut three times and finished 84th another.
So how did he explain shooting 63 Thursday?
“I must have gotten better since the last few times I played here,” he said.
That’s an understatement. He has four top 25s in his last five starts, including a win and a runner-up.
“I've always struggled at this course, coming over, being a little rusty from the East Coast and cold weather and trying to adjust,” Kisner said. “But this year I got to go to Maui and get kind of the rust off and the game feels good.”
It didn’t hurt playing alongside Snedeker and Davis Love III, two players he is good friends with.
“It was awesome,” Kisner said. “Then when the balls started going in, they started going in for everybody and everybody was having fun, and kind of keeps you going.”
QUOTE OF THE DAYEverything.
CALL OF THE DAY
Brandt Snedeker chips in for eagle at Sony Open.
Free play-by-play coverage of the second round streams from 6-11 p.m. ET Friday on PGATOUR.COM
SHOT OF THE DAY
Greg Owen holes out for eagle at Sony Open