One year away from the new rule that outlaws anchored strokes, Simpson ditched his belly putter for a regular one for his 2015 debut and ran off eight birdies over his last 10 holes for an eight-under 62 that gave him a share of the lead with Paul Casey.
On a day that made the 144 players feel they were in paradise with sunshine and barely a breeze, Simpson and Casey led the low scoring at Waialae. What set them apart is how they got there — Simpson with his conventional putter, Casey with his return to Honolulu for the first time in a decade.
Camilo Villegas would have joined them at 62 except for failing to make birdie on the par-5 18th hole. He shot 29 on the front at Waialae before cooling slightly for a 63. Robert Streb also had a 63, the low score from the afternoon. Rory Sabbatini had a 64, while Jason Day, Matt Kuchar were in the group at 65. Defending champion Jimmy Walker played in the afternoon and was in the large group at 66.
Three-time winner Martin Kaymer had 10 birdies in an eight-under 64 to take the first-round lead in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship in United Arab Emirates.
The German star, the Abu Dhabi winner in 2008, 2010 and 2011, had a one-stroke lead over Belgium's Thomas Pieters. Kaymer won the U.S. Open last year at Pinehurst.