Putnam didn't get a practice round in before the tournament because of a bee sting, but he obviously didn't need a warm-up.
Putnam, who played at Pepperdine, sank a five-foot birdie putt on the last hole for his ninth birdies in a 62 that included a bogey on the 15th hole.
Matt Kuchar opened with three straight birdies and wound up with another 7-under 63 that gave him a four-shot lead among the early starters Friday in the Sony Open.
Brandt Snedeker and Jason Dufner were among those at 66.
Jordan Spieth was hopeful of better in his 2019 debut. He had to wait until his 16th hole, the par-3 seventh, for his first birdie of the year.
Australian Jones fired a three-under 67 to be tied fourth but five shots behind runaway clubhouse leader Andrew Putman during the first round at Waialae Country Club in Honolulu.
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Remembering one of golf's new 2019 rules was also proving a work in progress for the former top-ranked player, who on two separate occasions dropped his ball from shoulder height when taking free relief, rather than the knee height now required. I don't even have a No. 2 or anything beyond that.
Fortunately a rules official reminded him of his error before he had played his next shot.
"I was three or four years old and my dad was teeing off and I guess I made a decision to drive the cart right into the lake", Svensson said of his toddler days. He wasn't under par until a birdie at the turn on the par-5 18th, and he shot 32 on the front, which typically is the slightly tougher side. It was sticking up right in the line on about a 4-footer. "Then they got off, and so I had to figure out why I did them well and how to train it back".
Putnam, 29, has been a consistent performer in his two-plus seasons on the PGA Tour, without making too many headlines. "The biggest break you'll see here is maybe a foot of break on a putt". Statistically, he made just over 174 feet of putts, from a 5-footer on the closing hole (his shortest birdie putt) to his longest birdie on the 14th at just under 30 feet.
He grabbed the lead at the last with a 10-foot birdie.
"The hole was very large and the ball was going in".