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Webb Simpson, Paul Casey lead at Waialae Country Club

Using the conventional putter in competition for the first time had a positive effect on Webb Simpson at the Sony Open.

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Webb Simpson used a conventional putter for the first time and carded an eight-under 62 to share the first-round lead at the Sony Open on Thursday.

The American, switching from a belly putter a year away from new rules banning the anchored stroke, holed nine birdies and a bogey at Waialae Country Club.

Simpson shares the lead with Englishman Paul Casey, who also holed just one bogey in Honolulu, Hawaii.

American Robert Streb and Colombian Camilo Villegas produced 63s to be sitting in a tie for third.

US Open champion in 2012, Simpson was pleased to get through a nervy day.

"Today was a big day for me," Simpson said.

"I was extremely nervous - first round on the PGA TOUR with a short putter but I just had a couple (Bible) verses in my yardage book today that I kept reading, and I stayed calm. All thanks to God for giving me strength to just get through today.

"Today was a hurdle I felt like I needed to get over and just real thankful."

Simpson started on the back nine and managed two birdies and a bogey but he got going on the front nine.

He holed four straight birdies from the first, and another three in four to finish his round.

Casey managed five birdies on the front nine, Villegas went through bogey-free and Streb eagled the par-five ninth in the highlight of his round.

South African Rory Sabbatini (64) is outright fifth, a shot ahead of countryman Tim Clark, Americans JJ Henry, Matt Kuchar, John Peterson, Jonathan Randolph and Australian Jason Day.

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