Australians James Nitties and Clint Rice, South Korean Jin Jeong and Swede Peter Hedblom lead the ISPS HANDA Perth International after the first round.
The international quartet fired rounds of 4-under 68 to be just one stroke clear of the field at Lake Karrinyup Country Club.
New South Welshman James Nitties spent the year competing on the Web.com Tour before coming home 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
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,” added Nitites.
“You come home and the courses are perfect. Out in the States it's target golf and here it's more position and running golf shots up.”
Tasmanian 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's definitely a challenge to play this golf 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't 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.
“Any time you go bogey free, you're always going to be thereabouts. I had a few testing par saves throughout the round and just putted well when I needed to.”
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't think it was going to be in but I hit a pretty good shot,” said Jeong.
“I thought it would be another, I don't 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 was a fifth at the NZ PGA Championship last year.
Experiencing a tough season on the European Tour in 2013, Sweden’s Peter Hedblom needs to win the ISPS HANDA Perth International to retain his tour card.
“I mean, you have nothing to hold back. You have to go for everything. But you're not happy to finish third or fourth or fifth or sixth or 10th,” said Hedblom who says there is room for improvement in the second round.
“The game didn't feel that good, but I kept the ball in the fairways. I hit a few bad ones and I was lucky to bounce in the fairway. But a solid start.”
Finishing a shot off the leaders was tournament drawcard Dustin Johnson, Australians Nick O’Hern, Nick Cullen, Dimi Papadatos and amateur Brady Watt. They are also joined by European Tour players Sam Little (ENG), Fred Andersson Hed (SWE) and Bjorn Akesson (SWE).
Johnson was please with his first round of 3-under 69 after struggling with his health in the lead up to the ISPS HANDA Perth International.
“I'm feeling way better than I was. I just have a little bit of a cough which is okay. I'm back to where I feel good enough to play good golf,” said Johnson.
“I think I've got a pretty good game plan for the golf course. Coming into the greens is just where you've really got to think about the shot you're hitting and where you want to hit it.”
The second round of the ISPS HANDA Perth International will tee off at 6.20am local time and 9.20am AEDST.
For all round 1 scores and round 2 tee times please visit pga.org.au/perth-international.