The Sony Open took a while to get started. So did Stuart Appleby.
Appleby was humming along Friday on rain-soaked Waialae Country Club, no bogeys on his cards but not many birdies, either. That changed when he holed a 163-yard shot from the fairway and a 35-foot putt on the next green to finish with a 6-under 64.
That gave him a one-shot lead over nine players from Matt Kuchar and Justin Rose to a pair of rookies in Nate Smith and Ben Martin. In soft conditions and only a light breeze, 65 players in the 144-man field broke par.
Appleby shot 30 on the back nine, including a chip-in from the front of the 12th green. Then came a strong finish, with a 5-iron that he holed out for eagle on the 16th and the long birdie putt on the 17th.
"Less than two hours, really went from a pretty plain round to a good round," Appleby said.
No one could catch him in the afternoon. Shigeki Maruyama, a popular figure in these parts, was at 5 under through 12 holes until he dropped a few shots on the back and had to birdie the 18th for a 65.
Martin, who just graduated from Clemson last year, wasn't sure what to expect. It wasn't the ideal preparation for his first regular PGA Tour event, although it was out of his hands. He had to do a commercial shoot on Tuesday, then couldn't practice Wednesday because the range was closed and didn't play Thursday when rain washed out the opening round.
"I hadn't hit a golf shot in three days," he said.
He hit most of them quite well in the opening round. Five of his birdies were from inside 8 feet, and two others came on the par 5s that he reached in two. It helped to have some experience on the bag. Martin sent his caddie to California to study the four courses used in the Bob Hope Classic, and he used Frank Williams, the longtime caddie for Stewart Cink, who was coming to Hawaii on vacation.
Martin hadn't never seen Waialae until this week, so the soft conditions didn't feel different.
That wasn't the case for the veterans.
"I have never seen the course like this," Steve Stricker said after rallying for a 69. The fairways were too wet to mow, and grass clippings that had been floating in water created yellow patches of debris.
Appleby said the course was "heavy," but he had no complaints. Players were allowed to lift, clean and place their golf balls through the fairway, although some players felt by the end of the day it wasn't necessary.
"Much better than I expected," said Kuchar, who made a long eagle putt on the ninth and made only one bogey.