Casey and Simpson on top

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Paul Casey and Webb Simpson are tied for the lead following the opening round of the Sony Open in Hawaii on Thursday.

The duo both carded eight under 62s in near perfect conditions on the Pacific island, with sunshine and barely a breeze to speak of.

Casey started off strong with four birdies in his first five holes, with a solitary bogey on the par four sixth being his only set back. He recovered to hole five more birdies.

The Englishman has not played at the event for the better part of a decade as he usually kicks off his European Tour with a start in Dubai. However, Casey has finally given up playing both the PGA and European Tours in an attempt to consilidate his career.

“For as long as I’ve been professional I’ve been a member of the European Tour,” the 37-year-old told espn.go.com.

“For a long, long time now, I’ve been trying to play both the PGA Tour and the European Tour, and some years I’ve done it brilliantly, and other years I’ve failed miserably, and I just didn’t want to keep putting myself in kind of a position where I’m struggling to fly around the world.”

Meanwhile, Simpson played his first professional round with a conventional putter. Belly putters will be outlawed in 12 months time so the American decided to get ahead of the game.

It seemed to work for Simpson, as he carded eight birdies over his final ten holes turn earn a share of the lead.

“Today was a big day for me,” said the 2012 US Open winner.

“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.”

Robert Streb and Camilo Villegas are one stroke off the pace on seven under, South Africa’s Rory Sabbatini is by himself on six under while Jason Day and Tim Clark are on five under.

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