Short putter powers Simpson to career-low 62

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It didn't take Webb Simpson long to find an upside to life after anchoring.

Using a regulation-length putter for the first time on the PGA Tour, Simpson opened the Sony Open in Hawaii with an 8-under 62, setting a new career low and tying a nine-hole course record in the process.

Simpson started on No. 10 and was only 1 under through his first eight holes, but he closed with a flurry, carding birdies on eight of his final 10 holes. His inward score of 7-under 28 tied the lowest nine-hole score at Waialae Country Club, and it's the lowest nine-hole score on the PGA Tour this season.

Simpson hit 13 of 18 greens in regulation, but it was the newest addition to his bag that shined the brightest. After making the turn with a birdie on No. 18, he made seven birdies on the front nine - including holing putts of more than 15 feet on Nos. 1, 3, 4 and 7. He needed only 23 putts to complete his round and went 13-for-13 from inside 10 feet.

"Today was a big day for me," Simpson told reporters. "It was one of the best putting rounds I've ever had, to be honest."

Simpson has anchored a belly putter since turning pro in 2008, a stroke he used to win four PGA Tour titles including the 2012 U.S. Open. With the anchoring ban set to go into effect on Jan. 1, he is one of many notable anchorers in search of a viable alternative on the greens - and he may have just found his solution.

Simpson is making his third start of the wraparound season, but first since a T-41 finish at the McGladrey Classic in November. He is a veteran at this event, making his sixth appearance, but his track record at Waialae isn't exactly stellar. Simpson tied for ninth in his first trip to Oahu in 2009, but in four subsequent appearances he hasn't finished higher than T-20.

Simpson and first-round co-leader Paul Casey both fell one shot short of the competitive course record, set by David Toms with a 61 in 2006.