In need of nothing less than a victory at the ISPS HANDA Perth International to secure his playing rights on The European Tour for next season, Peter Hedblom set up that dream scenario by taking a share of the first round lead at Lake Karrinyup Country Club in Western Australia. The Swede, one of many European Tour players in the last chance saloon to secure their cards for next year at this, the last counting event for the all-important top 110 in The Race to Dubai, put together a fine opening round of four under par 68 to join former World Amateur World Number One Jin Jeong of South Korea and the Australian pair of James Nitties (NSW) and Clint Rice (Tas) at the top of the leaderboard. If Hedblom is to achieve his dream he will have to overcome, among others, American star Dustin Johnson who posted a three under 69 to lurk just one shot off the pace and join an eight-strong group of players tied for fifth spot. That group also includes the Swedish duo of Bjorn Akesson and Fredrik Andersson Hed as well as England s Sam Little who all need to finish the week within the top few to continue their European Tour careers next year. Johnson s compatriot and defending champion, Bo Van Pelt, is another name Hedblom will be more than aware of in the chasing pack, but the Swede is hoping his care-free attitude from round one can carry him to what would be a remarkable fourth European Tour career victory. I&aposm so far back that I need to win so I have nothing to hold back on, said Hedblom. You just have to go for everything. I can t be happy with second, third, fourth or fifth I just have to play as well as I can and see if I can win the tournament. Today it felt like any tournament when I&aposm starting. But if I will be leading playing the last day, then maybe I&aposll feel the tension. But right now, it&aposs just one round out of four but it&aposs good to at least have a chance to do it. Johnson doesn’t have to worry about where he will be playing his golf next year. The seven-time PGA Tour winner and Ryder Cup star was pleased with his opening effort given he is recovering from a slight illness. I&aposm feeling way better than I was, said Johnson. I just have a little bit of a cough which is okay I&aposm back to where I feel good enough to play good golf. I played pretty well today and the course is fun to play. The greens are really firm and they are really fast so you have got to be careful where you hit the ball on your second shots. You don&apost want too many downhill putts because it&aposs hard to stop the ball and if you miss the green in the wrong side, you&aposre dead. James Nitties has spent the year competing on the Web.com Tour before coming home to Australia and finishing tied third at the WA Goldfields PGA Championship two weeks ago. I sort of had mixed emotions coming in this week, but the game is there. I m very happy to be at 4 under through the first round, said Nitties who missed the Web.com Tour playoffs by one position on the moneylist. Enjoying competing in Perth, Nitties says courses in Australia suit his style of play. This is more my style of golf thinking wise. I prefer this style of golf – firm and fast. Clint Rice said his performance today was all about pre-tournament preparation. I turned up here on Monday and started planning precisely how to play this golf course. It&aposs definitely a challenge to play this course well, said Rice who missed the cut last year at the ISPS HANDA Perth International. I was a bit under-prepared last year. I didn&apost really treat the course with enough respect. So I took a different approach this year. Rice s preparation paid off as he posted a bogey free round to kick start his tournament. South Korean Jin Jeong s round was highlighted by an eagle on the par-4 406 metre 18th hole. The 18th hole, the ninth hole for me, I hit 6 iron from 167 metres. I didn&apost think it was going to be in but I hit a pretty good shot, said Jeong. I thought it would be another, I don&apost know, three or five feet, but people started clapping and yelling. Jeong burst on to the golf scene as an amateur in 2010 when he enjoyed two stints as the highest ranked amateur in the world, as well as being the leading amateur at The Open Championship. Since turning Professional in 2011, Jeong s best finish on the PGA Tour of Australasia has been a fifth at the NZ PGA Championship last year. The ISPS HANDA Perth International continues tomorrow (Friday) at Lake Karrinyup Country Club, widely acknowledged as Western Australia s premier golf club. It is the only Australian tournament to be co-sanctioned by the European Tour and the PGA Tour of Australasia. With US$2 million in prizemoney, the tournament is Australia s richest tour event and is proudly supported by the International Sports Promotion Society (ISPS), and the Western Australian Government, through Eventscorp.
Author: Perth International