European Tour

Rumford excels on home Perth layout

2018-02-08 13:58
Brett Rumford (Getty)

Perth - Defending champion Brett Rumford set the early pace on the opening day of the Handa World Super 6 golf tournament in Perth on Thursday. 

The unique tri-sanctioned European Tour tournament, which sees the top 24 after the first three rounds undertake match play on the final day to decide the winner, is in its second year, with local golfer Rumford having won the inaugural event in 2017. 

Rumford, who has always had an affinity with the Lake Karrinyup course, shot an opening round 64 to hold a two-stroke lead over Britain's Lee Westwood and Australian James Nitties. 

Rumford and Westwood played together on the opening day, with Englishman Andrew "Beef" Johnston completing the group which started on the back nine. 

Johnston began the day with an eagle on the opening hole, but from there on was unable to match his two playing partners. He finished one over, dropping five strokes with an ugly nine on the par-four second. 

While Johnston struggled, Rumford capitalised on placid conditions early in the day to charge through his first nine holes to be seven-under at the turn. 

The same event revived Rumford's career 12 months earlier, his win securing his future on the European tour, and his opening round has him ideally placed to again contend for the lion's share of the $1.75 million prize money on Sunday. 

Rumford was dominant last year and had a five-stroke lead at the end of the third round, but said being the top qualifier again wasn't his priority. 

"I'm leading, I'm inside the top 24 and that's my only focus this week is finishing inside that number," he said. 

"Whether I lead the qualifying again, that would be a nice bonus but it's not my priority this week and I'm playing accordingly." 

The top eight at the end of day three receive a bye in the first round of match play Sunday. 

Rumford said he was always confident playing the Lake Karrinyup course. 

"You find as a trend that a lot of players go back and play well when they've had a lot of good performances there (at a course), and this is one of them for me," he said. 

"I've played here a lot, so ... definitely seems to be some kind of home course advantage." 

Former world number one Westwood went out in 32, helped by an eagle on the 15th, and was level with Rumford with two holes to play. 

However, Rumford birdied the penultimate hole, while Westwood dropped a stroke. 

The 44-year-old Westwood was content with a solid opening round.

"I played very nicely, very solidly," he said.

"I hit a lot of good shots, drove the ball well, putted nicely as well without anything really going in for me.

Englishman Danny Willett, the 2016 Masters champion, had a tough day and finished at four over.

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