Goosen, Singh roll back the years

PGA Tour veterans Retief Goosen and Vijay Singh finished in a six-way tie for the lead after the first round of the Northern Trust Open on Thursday.

The two former major champions, who have a combined age of nearly 100, set the early pace with five-under-par 66 at Riviera Country Club in California, before they were joined by Korean-born American James Hahn, Nick Watney, Daniel Summerhays and Derek Fathauer.

One stroke behind the leading sextet was Mexico’s Carlos Ortiz after notching a 67, while Germany’s Alex Cejka, Australian Geoff Ogilvy and Americans Justin Thomas and William McGirt a further shot behind after carding three-under 68s.

Having spent 32 straight weeks as world number one a decade ago, Fijian Singh hasn’t won on the PGA Tour since 2008 but played like a three-time major winner for large parts of his round.

“I kept my ball in play, hit a lot of fairways, hit a lot of greens and when I did miss, I chipped it real close,” the player who turns 52 on Sunday said after his round.

“I’m finally not hurting as much as I did the last five years.

“That’s a big part of playing good golf. You’re not hurting, you can go out and play and you’re comfortable.”

Goosen has been struggling with fitness issues for several years and haven’t won on the PGA Tour since 2009 Transitions Championship.
“It was nice to play with Vijay,” the 46-year-old South African told reporters after the round.

“He played very solid too, and he putted really good. It’s nice that the two old boys played so well. We were sort of feeding off each other.”

The course firmed up as the round progressed and the 29-year-old Fathauer had taken a share of the lead by the time he finished the 12th, but could get the birdie that would have given him the outright lead in the remaining six holes.

“I just made some good saves, those three-, four-footers that you’ve got to make out here,” he said.

Two-time Masters champions and defending champion Bubba Watson was in a group of 16 players that carded one-under-par 70s in the opening round.

“Didn’t hit many greens,” the world number three said after his round.

“The swing wasn’t feeling the best but somehow we kept getting up and down. I was missing in the right spots.”