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January 10 2013

7:24 PM

Overton opens with 65 at Waialae

Newly engaged Jeff Overton opened with a 65 on Thursday at the Sony Open (Stan Badz/PGA TOUR)

By Ann Miller, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent

HONOLULU — Two months ago, Jeff Overton was on one knee in Italy asking opera singer Christina Zimmer to marry him. Thursday, the couple was in Hawaii celebrating their engagement and the first full-field event of the 2013 PGA TOUR season.

Overton opened his eighth year on tour with a 5-under 65 at the Sony Open in Hawaii. He was a shot off Scott Piercy’s pace halfway through the first round at Waialae Country Club.

But back to November, when everything was “rocking and rolling.”

He and Zimmer went to Florence, where her mom grew up. He took her to Piazzale Michelangelo, on a hill on the south bank of the Arno River, overlooking the city.

“It seemed romantic,” Overton said. “It seemed like it made her think I’m romantic, even though she says I’m not.

“Got down on one knee right there, family was pretty close by and then they were there to take pictures and kind of celebrate. Worked out great.”

In other words, she said yes. They came home and bought a house in Florida and Overton went to work on his bunker play — “the worst part of my game.”

He has yet to win on TOUR, but Overton has four runner-up finishes and earned nearly $10 million. Last year, the 2005 Indiana graduate grabbed four Top 10s.

Thursday he went into four bunkers and got up and down each time. Overton drained par putts of seven and nine feet and birdied both par-5s from the bunker, from 19 feet at the ninth after plugging in the face, and 2 feet at the 18th.

He hit it close for birdie on the 12th and 13th, drained a 15-footer at the 17th and sank a nine-footer at No. 6 to nullify his only bogey.

“I’m really excited about it,” Overton said. “I don’t think I’ve ever shot this low here, never gone real low here. But it’s been weird because I should play good here. All the other courses that are extremely windy I generally play good on because I’m kind of a low spinner.”

His goal this year is to get that elusive win — “first thing.”

“That’s my biggest goal,” he says, “and more so I think it just comes from taking every shot … hit as good a shot as you can every time and play every single hole like it’s to win The Masters or a major.”

The engagement has not changed that strategy.

“Not at all,” Overton says. “Life is just good. There’s a different phase of life and just an exciting time, and just nothing really feels a whole lot different. Just nice and relaxing.”

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