Swede Peter Hedblom, Korean Jin Jeong, and local favourites Clint Rice and James Nitties share the lead at the Perth International 2013 after Day 1, all finishing with four-under-par rounds of 68.
It was a bright start in general for the Australian hopefuls at the event, as six local golfers are within one shot of the lead at this early stage.
|Peter Hedblom (SWE)||-4|
|Jin Jeong (ROK)||-4|
|James Nitties (AUS)||-4|
|Clint Rice (AUS)||-4|
|Dustin Johnson (USA)||-3|
|Sam Little (ENG)||-3|
|Nick O'Hern (AUS)||-3|
|Brady Watt (AUS) - Amateur||-3|
|Nick Cullen (AUS)||-3|
|Demetrios Papadatos (AUS)||-3|
|Bjorn Akesson (SWE)||-3|
|Fredrik Andersson Hed (SWE)||-3|
Scoring was low for those who went out early, but the wind picked up ahead of later tee times, and birdies and eagles became increasingly scarce.
That did not prevent 23-year-old Jeong—who has lived in Australia for the past seven years, according to PerthNow's Chris Robinson, via news.com.au—from sinking an iron shot at the 18th to secure an eagle and a share of the early lead.
"Luck definitely helped, but my putting was really good, so I'm quite happy with it," Jeong told Robinson. "This course suits my game really well."
Aussies James Nitties & Clint Rice hold a share of the lead at 4-under at the Perth International with Dustin Johnson one shot back #Golf— FOX SPORTS News (@FOXSportsNews) October 17, 2013
On Day 2, all eyes will be on pre-tournament favourite Dustin Johnson, whose round of 69 leaves him one shot off the lead after 18 holes.
Fellow star attractions Bo Van Pelt and Ross Fisher also got off to steady starts. Van Pelt carded a round of 70, while Fisher lies at level par after an opening round of 72.
It was a day to forget, though, for Britain's Paul Casey, whose miserable 2013 season continued with a woeful round of 76 to leave him tied for 105th place after Day 1.
The event represents the final tournament of the 2013 European Tour, and several players are scrambling to secure their cards for next season.
Paul Casey slams his club into the sand after exiting a bunker at 17. Frustrating day for the Englishman. Currently +3 #PerthIntl— Chris Robinson (@CJKRobinson) October 17, 2013
Only the top 110 players in the Race for Dubai standings will earn full playing rights for 2014, meaning some nervous golfers will be attempting to earn the points and prize money to retain their tour status over the coming days.
Among those needing to impress is joint leader Hedblom, who must win the tournament to retain his card, per Chris Robinson, via the Herald Sun. The 43-year-old Swede will be delighted with his start to the event, then.
Play resumes Friday morning at 6:20 a.m. local time (Thursday, 10:20 p.m. BST), with Nitties, Casey and Fisher all among the early starters.