Retief Goosen and Vijay Singh share lead at Riviera

Retief Goosen and Vijay Singh share lead at Riviera
Vijay Singh tees off on the fourth hole Thursday during the first round of the Northern Trust Open at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades. (Todd Warshaw / Getty Images)

Retief Goosen and Vijay Singh, two carbon-based products from the PGA Tour's Paleozoic era, were exhibited as a museum-piece pair for Thursday's first round of the Northern Trust Open.

They went out early off the fabled first tee at Riviera Country Club, in the 7:11 a.m. time slot.


Their ages added up to 97 — which is about 197 in golf years — yet whatever breakfast meds they served at the Old Hackers' Home seemed to work.

"Right now, nothing hurts," Singh would say.

Goosen, 46, and Singh, 51, clearly enjoyed their rounds and each other's company.

You know how it is: Sometimes old folks don't even have to say much.

"You don't really chat as much as you would when you have got something over par going and you don't really care anymore," Goosen said.

Goosen and Singh had something going on.

They both shot five-under-par 66, with matching birdies on holes No.1, No. 10 and No. 16.

There was no word whether they also shared an early dinner.

What they did do, at least for one day, was roll the greens back about 10 or 15 years.

They stood their ground atop a leaderboard that was supposed to be surrendering to the kids ready to take over the sport from Tiger and Phil.

Goosen and Singh, though, ended up co-geezers in the clubhouse as they shared a six-way lead.

The first round is not quite official, as play was suspended due to darkness at 5:50 p.m. with three players left on course. Goosen and Singh might have already been asleep by then.

For the record, few expect this AARP Open to last.

"You're not going to win it on Thursday," Singh properly acknowledged.

Goosen and Singh caught the best of the day, an early-morning stillness that tends to promote lower scores.

If they fade off into Friday's second-round sunset, you can always say it was fun while they lasted.

A decade ago, Goosen and Singh on top would have hardly raised an eyebrow. You're talking about two former premier players. Goosen is a two-time U.S. Open champion while Singh has claimed the Masters and two PGA championships.

The last major win for both, though, came in 2004. That was the year Goosen held off Phil Mickelson on the burnt greens of Shinnecock Hills, with Singh winning a PGA playoff at Whistling Straits.

That was followed, of course, by time marching on. Singh turns 52 on Sunday.

His last PGA Tour win was 2008, while Goosen's was in 2009.

Singh has to be feeling the affects of all the practice balls he has hit. There are windows, though, when the pain subsides long enough to have days like Thursday.

"I'm finally not hurting as much as I did the last five years," Singh said. "That's a big part of playing good golf. You're not hurting."

Goosen and Singh shared a mishmash leaderboard that included Nick Watney, James Hahn, Daniel Summerhays and Derek Fathauer.

Carlos Ortiz is one shot back after his four-under 67, while four others sit at 68.

In that grouping sits 37-year-old Geoff Ogilvy, the 2006 U.S. Open champion, and 21-year old riser Justin Thomas.

Among those who share the lead, only Watney, who finished second last week at Pebble Beach, was considered a serious contender this week. Watney, 33, has battled back from an injury-filled 2014.

Watney, at No. 75, has the highest world ranking among the six co-leaders. He is a five-time winner on tour and seems to be back on a positive track.

Hahn is a 33-year-old veteran who has two tour wins in Canada. He has won at a place called "Riviera" before, but it was the Riviera Nayarit Classic in Mexico.

Summerhays, 31, has no PGA Tour wins in 118 previous starts. He finished tied for 17th at the Sony Open earlier this year and has missed the cut in two of his last three starts.

Fathauer is 29 with his only professional win coming at the 2014 Tour Championship.

So, what happened to the contenders?

Defending champion Bubba Watson, who caught the tougher, afternoon conditions, shot a solid one-under 70.

Anyone who thinks he can't make up that many strokes in this year's tournament must have missed last year's tournament.

"The swing wasn't feeling the best, but somehow we kept getting up and down," Watson said.

Jordan Spieth, ranked ninth in the world, is at 69 while Dustin Johnson still lurks after his 70.

Sergio Garcia and Jim Furyk both shot even-par 71.

And no talk of old guys at Riviera would be complete without mention of 55-year-old Fred Couples.

The two-time champion shot even par 71.

He, like Singh and Goosen, is in the mix, also hoping to put off Father Time.