AUSSIES 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.
Nitties, originally from Newcastle in NSW, 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.
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,” he 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.
“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.”
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 event.
“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.