Lawrie and Higgins have work to do in Perth
Irish duo are chasing their tour cards for next season in the final counting tournament
Peter Lawrie plays his second shot on the fourth hole during day one of the Perth International at Lake Karrinyup Country Club. Photograph: Paul Kane/Getty Images
Irish duo Peter Lawrie and David Higgins, both of whom are looking to try and secure full playing rights on the European Tour next season by finishing in the top 110 in the Race to Dubai shot one over par, 73s, in the opening round of the final counting tournament in Perth.
Roughly speaking, and it would rest on a number of permutations, a place in the top 30 this weekend might be good enough to see them secure that goal. They are five shots off the lead (68) set by Australians James Nitties and Clint Rice, along with Peter Hedblom (Sweden) and Jin Jeong of Korea.
Hedblom also requires a victory in Australia to secure his playing rights on The European Tour for next season and underlined his determination with a share of the first round lead.
If he is to achieve his dream he will have to overcome, among others, American star Dustin Johnson who posted a three under 69 to lurk just one shot off the pace and join an eight-strong group of players tied for fifth spot.
That group also includes the Swedish duo of Bjorn Akesson and Fredrik Andersson Hed as well as England’s Sam Little who all need to finish the week within the top few to continue their European Tour careers next year.
Johnson’s compatriot and defending champion, Bo Van Pelt, is another name Hedblom will be more than aware of in the chasing pack, but the Swede is hoping his care-free attitude from round one can carry him to what would be a remarkable fourth European Tour career victory.
“I’m so far back that I need to win so I have nothing to hold back on,” said Hedblom. “You just have to go for everything. I can’t be happy with second, third, fourth or fifth – I just have to play as well as I can and see if I can win the tournament.
“Today it felt like any tournament when I’m starting. But if I will be leading playing the last day, then maybe I’ll feel the tension. But right now, it’s just one round out of four but it’s good to at least have a chance to do it.”
68 P Hedblom (Swe); C Rice (Aus); J Jeong (Kor); J Nitties (Aus);
69 N Cullen (Aus); F Andersson Hed (Swe); D Johnson (USA); S Little (Eng); D Papadatos (Aus); B Åkesson (Swe); N O’Hern (Aus); B Watt (am) (Aus);