Big names struggle in Perth
Alejandro Canizares (Gallo Images)
Perth - Little-known New Zealander Michael Hendry and Spaniard Alejandro Canizares grabbed the first round lead at the Perth International on Thursday as the swirling winds left Charl Schwartzel and Jason Dufner six shots off the pace.
Hendry and Canizares fired seven-under-par 65s at the $2 million European Tour event at Lake Karrinyup with Englishman Paul Casey among the chasing pack after a 67.
Canizares, who is looking for his second Tour win after his 2006 Russian Open success, was a late entry for the Perth event after only deciding to compete following his missed cut in Portugal last week.
"I played pretty steady the whole round and gave myself plenty of chances," the Spaniard told reporters after his bogey free round.
"I think I only missed two greens in the whole round and one of them I chipped in on the eighth hole, par 3, which was a bonus.
"I putted well. I missed a couple short ones on 14 and 15 for birdie, but I made a long one on 17, so I made up for that and made a good one for put on 18," added the world number 246.
Argentina's Emiliano Grillo was one shot back of the leaders after a firing a 66 with Casey and compatriot Andrew Johnston tied for fourth.
Casey, the former world number three, showed no signs of his recent struggles for form as he continues to battle back from a dislocated shoulder suffered in a snowboarding accident last year.
"I played wonderful golf today," Casey, the world No 132, told reporters.
"I thought the golf course would be trickier this afternoon, I have no idea, I wasn't out this morning but I'm going to assume it was slightly trickier this afternoon.
"The greens certainly got a little crispy and I struggled to reach a couple of putts. But tee-to-green was beautiful and I am ecstatic with the number of birdie chances I had," Casey said.
World No 10 Dufner, the best ranked player in the field, matched Schwartzel's 71 and the American Ryder Cup team member was disappointed with his round.
"I mishit a couple of drives and never got it going today," Dufner bemoaned.
While Dufner was downbeat, Schwartzel was optimistic about his chances of registering a first tournament win since his Masters triumph at Augusta.
"Six shots is nothing. There are so many holes to go. It's just the start. You can lose it in the first round but you can't win it," he said.
"I had difficulty judging the swirling wind out there today and you need to pull the right club from the bag to be precise on these sloping greens."
Scores after the opening round of the $A2 million EPGA-sanctioned Perth International at Lake Karrinyup (par-72) in Perth on Thursday (Australia unless stated):
65 - Michael Hendry (NZL), Alejandro Canizares (ESP)
66 - Emiliano Grillo (ARG)
67 - Andrew Johnston (ENG), Paul Casey (ENG)
68 - Ashley Hall, Max McCardle, Jason Scrivener, Rhys Davies (WAL), Greg Chalmers, Andrew Dodt
69 - Carlos Del Moral (ESP)
70 - Thomas Petersson (SWE), Richard Bland (ENG), Daniel Fox, Brad Lamb, Matthew Guyatt, Alastair Forsyth (SCO), Andre Stolz, Knut Borsheim (NOR), Jin Jeong (KOR), Jamie Moul (ENG), Heath Reed, Craig Lee (SCO), Markus Brier (AUT), Bo van Pelt (USA), Jason Norris, Leigh Deagan
71 - Edouard Dubois (FRA), Terry Pilkadaris, Steve Jones, Charl Schwartzel (RSA), Jason Dufner (USA), Edoardo Molinari (ITA), Scott Strange, Anthony Summers, Matthew Millar, Scott Laycock, Aaron Townsend, Peter Wilson, Ian Esson, Rick Kulacz, Mark Brown (NZL), Robert Coles (ENG), David Howell (ENG), Federico Colombo (ITA)
72 - Steve Webster (ENG), Thomas Norret (DEN), Scott Jamieson (SCO), Lorenzo Gagli (ITA), Sam Little (ENG), Andy Sullivan (ENG), Andrea Pavan (ITA)
73 - Oliver Wilson (ENG), Gary Boyd (ENG)
74 - Matthew Baldwin (ENG), Ignacio Garrido (ESP)
75 - Daniel Denison (ENG), Mikael Lundberg (SWE), Tommy Fleetwood (ENG)
76 - James Kingston (RSA)
77 - Mikko Ilonen (FIN), Gareth Maybin (NIR), Oscar Floren (SWE), George Murray (SCO), Johan Edfors (SWE), Peter Hedblom (SWE),
78 - Joakim Lagergren (SWE), Jose Lara (ESP)