"It has been a great year,'' Sabbatini said. "You can look at it that way, but at the same time, it's been a frustrating year because I've given myself a lot of good opportunities to win golf tournaments and haven't got the job done. So in a sense, it's been a little bit of a disappointment because of that.''
Adam Scott and Phil Mickelson, playing in New York for the first time since his 72nd-hole meltdown last year in the U.S. Open at nearby Winged Foot, also got off to strong starts, while Singh struggled in his title defense.
Scott and Mickelson joined Mark Calcavecchia, Steve Stricker, Jerry Kelly, Arron Oberholser and Brett Quigley at 67.
"The scores will come slowly, but the confidence in my game is there,'' said Mickelson, fully recovered from a left wrist injury.
Singh, No. 2 in the standings and just 1,000 points behind the absent Woods after the points were re-set following the regular season, shot a 75.
The three-time Westchester winner had a four-putt double bogey on the par-3 14th and was 6 over after 11 holes. After one of his bogeys, a young fan rubbed it in as Singh walked by, saying: "Nice bogey, Vijay.''
At No. 134, Beem is fighting to simply advance to the next event. The top 120 after The Barclays will be eligible for the Deutsche Bank Championship next week in Norton, Mass. The field will then be cut to 70 for the BMW Championship in Lemont, Ill., and to 30 for the Tour Championship at East Lake in Atlanta.
"If I don't play well this week, I have to take a vacation, which I don't really want to take,'' said Beem, the 2002 PGA Championship winner.
The FedEx Cup winner will receive a $10 million deferred prize.
"It's not like we're going for $10 million in cash. Big difference,'' Els noted. "We've got to wait for this cash until you're 65. Big difference.''
Divots: The tournament winner will receive $1.26 million from the $7 million purse, and 9,000 of the available 50,000 FedEx Cup points. ... No. 3 Jim Furyk opened with a 70 playing alongside Mickelson and Singh. ... Davis Love III shot a 69 a week after a kidney stone forced him to skip his title defense in the Wyndham Championship. ... Gay took only 20 putts in 66. ... Eighty players were at par or better.