LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLA., OCT. 17 -- Defending champion Tim Simpson revamped his putting stroke overnight and cruised to an 8-under-par 64 today for the first-round lead in the Disney Golf Classic.

Simpson, who has three PGA Tour victories in 13 years, made nine birdies and a lone bogey over the Lake Buena Vista Course, considered the easiest of the three layouts used in the $1 million event.

Bill Buttner was next with 66, also at Lake Buena Vista. Buttner, winless in eight years on the PGA Tour, had four birdies on the front side and eagle 3 on the 14th hole.

John Mahaffey, Paul Azinger and Mike Smith toured the tough Palm Course in 67s. Nick Price carded 67 at Lake Buena Vista, as did Dave Barr at Magnolia.

"I played real solid, drove well and hit some good iron shots," Simpson said. But he said it was the "major change in my putting" that he worked out with fellow pro Morris Hatalsky that made the difference.

He putted for two hours Tuesday, adjusting his stance and slowing his stroke to return to a style "like I had in high school. . . . I just had to change, it was so bad."

A large group at 68 included Curtis Strange, who has amassed 17 victories and more than $5 million in career earnings but this year is winless and 50th on the money list.

He said he had a lot of work to do before the season ends and "I never had to do that before."