Kapalua, Hawaii: Every player walked off the 18th green on Thursday and deposited an autographed golf ball into the new FedExCup trophy that will be awarded at the end of the season. Vijay Singh wants the trophy they hand out on Sunday in the Mercedes-Benz Championship. Convinced that he has figured out his flaws, determined not to let another opportunity on Maui slip away, Singh survived the raging trade wind at Kapalua to make six birdies for a 4-under 69, leaving him in a five-way tie for the lead as the PGA Tour season began in strenuous conditions. "There's so much going on about FedExCup, I'm tired of listening to it," Singh said. "Yeah, I'm looking forward to it. It's going to be a good year. There's still tournaments out there that we have to focus on, and not focus on the FedExCup itself. Right now, my focus is going to be on winning golf tournaments." This one might require some patience. The wind was so strong that Stephen Ames had 152 yards to the hole at No. 13 and ripped a 5-iron. He called it the toughest wind since Saturday at Muirfield in the 2002 British Open, the day Tiger Woods' hope for a Grand Slam ended with an 81. A crowd at the top The result was a crowd atop the leaderboard. K J Choi struck the first shot of the season and was the first to post a 69 with a nice chip to tap-in range on the par-5 18th. Will MacKenzie, one of 13 newcomers to the Mercedes-Benz Championship, and Brett Wetterich and Ames eventually joined the lead. Love was poised to join them until he hit a slight fade that the wind turned into a wild slice, the ball disappearing into the weeds on the 16th hole, forcing him to hit another. He escaped with a bogey, then finished with a two-putt birdie on the 18th after hitting 4-iron from 275 yards away with the wind at his back. He was one shot back at 70. This is the first of 40 events to earn points in a season-long competition that will end at the Tour Championship, with $10 million going to winner of the FedExCup. Stuart Appleby got off to a sluggish start in his bid to tie a PGA Tour record with his fourth straight victory at the same tournament. He had one birdie, one bogey and closed with 10 straight pars for an even-par 73. Only a dozen players managed to break par. In winning at Kapalua the last three years, Appleby has been a combined four shots better than Singh, who has not finished out of the top 10 in his last seven starts at the Mercedes-Benz Championship. "Golf doesn't owe you anything," Singh said about his close calls in this event. "If you start feeling that way, then you've got a problem. I've had great finishes over here. You can look at it that way. I'm looking forward to the next three days and see what happens." Singh has slipped to No. 7 in the world after winning only one tournament in his last 35 starts on the PGA Tour. He figured out what was wrong with his swing late last year, spent the offseason fixing it, and is ready to get his game going in the right direction again.
Topics : Golf