Norman struggles, McGrane in the hunt

 

GOLF:Greg Norman might be the big draw at this week’s €1.4million Johnnie Walker Classic, but the 54-year-old failed to live up to the hype with an opening 75 in Perth where Damien McGrane is just two shots off Robert-Jan Derksen’s first round lead.

Derksen shot a career-best eight-under-par 64 to secure the lead at the Vines Club in Western Australia. The 35-year-old picked up eight birdies in a flawless bogey-free round to set a course-record for the new layout.

"It's a good start and it's always nice to have, it's as simple as that, but there's a lot of golf to be played," said Derksen, who leads by one shot on eight-under from Singapore’s Mardan Mamat and Australia’s Tony Carolan.

"I've been struggling a little bit with the driver lately but this week on this course it's not only the driver, it's a lot of other things as well, there's a lot of position play."

McGrane was tied for fourth on six-under alongside the English pair of Lee Westwood and John Bickerton. The Meath pro carded no less than eight birdies with just two dropped shots at the fourth and eighth.

Peter Lawrie also finds himself well-placed just one shot behind McGrane on five-under. The Dubliner’s opening 67 was flawless. He had picked up three birdies by the 12th before setting up a grandstand finish with an eagle at the par five 18th.

Not to be outdone, Gareth Maybin also got in on the eagle act with two on the back nine. Having reached the turn in one-under 35 the Ballyclare pro eagled the par five 10th. Although he bogeyed 17, the 28-year-old book-ended his inward half with another eagle at 18, just like Lawrie, to sign for 68.

World number 11 Anthony Kim joined Maybin on four-under, while Colombia’s Camilo Villegas was another who eagled the final hole but could only manage a 72.

Gary Murphy continues to struggle on the tour these days and his one-over 73 made little impact and leaves him with work to do to simply make the cut.

Norman will also struggle to make the cut after his round of 75 was littered with bogeys and a double bogey at the par five third. At three-over “The Shark” will need to produce some magic of old for the crowds to see more of him over the weekend.

"Seventy-five is a bit of a shock to me but that's my score and I've got to take it," said Norman. "I actually felt pretty good. I had one bad drive and took a double bogey and took three putts.

"The putter let me down and that was it. If I putted half decent, I would probably have shot under 70. That's the way it is."

Derksen is going for his third European Tour title after previous wins at the 2003 Dubai Desert Classic and 2005 Madeira Open.

The Dutchman missed the cut at last week's Malaysian Open after suffering heat stroke but said his game was better suited to the conditions in Western Australia.

"That was very humid...this is still hot but it is a much better heat for me," he said.

Westwood made a slow start to his round but birdied four of the last seven holes to put himself in contention.

"I started off hitting a couple of poor shots, a couple of pulls and got away with one but I corrected the fault," he said.

"That's what I've been good at doing the last couple of years, correcting things pretty quickly and I started hitting good shots after that and I played well for the last 12 holes."

Collated first round scores

(Irish & Gbr unless stated, Irishin bold, par 72):

64Robert Jan Derksen (Ned)

65Tony Carolan (Aus), Mardan Mamat (Sin)

66 Damien McGrane, John Bickerton, Lee Westwood

67Anthony Kang (USA), Danny Lee (Nzl), Clint Rice (Aus), Colin Montgomerie, Ignacio Garrido (Spa), Peter Lawrie, Hiroyuki Fujita (Jpn)

68Francesco Molinari (Ita), Seung-yul Noh (Kor), Chris Gaunt (Aus), Benn Barham, Andrew Tschudin (Aus), Felipe Aguilar (Chi), Scott Hend (Aus), Alexander Noren (Swe), Adam Blyth (Aus), Scott Laycock (Aus), Richie Ramsay, Gareth Maybin, Phillip Price, Simon Khan, Taichiro Kiyota (Jpn), Anthony Kim (USA), David McKenzie (Aus), Ian Poulter, Hyung-sung Kim (Kor)

69Michael Sim (Aus), Anton Haig (Rsa), Richie Gallichan (Aus), Tim Wood (Aus), Chih-bing Lam (Sin), Stuart Bouvier (Aus), Gary Lockerbie, Craig Scott (Aus), Richard Finch, Andre Stolz (Aus), Sam Little

70David Smail (Nzl), Pelle Edberg (Swe), Stephen Leaney (Aus), Johan Edfors (Swe), Simon Wakefield, Anthony Wall, Niclas Fasth (Swe), Markus Brier (Aut), Marcus Fraser (Aus), Darren Beck (Aus), David Howell, Wayne Perske (Aus), Andrew Dodt (Aus), Terry Pilkadaris (Aus), Mark Brown (USA), Peter Senior (Aus), Raphael Jacquelin (Fra), Seve Benson, Marcus Both (Aus), Sang-moon Bae (Kor), Iain Steel (Mal), Ross McGowan

71Bryan Saltus (USA), Robert Dinwiddie, Jose Manuel Lara (Spa), Magnus A Carlsson (Swe), Won Joon Lee (Aus), Robert Rock, Tristan Lambert (Aus), Scott Barr (Aus), Marc Warren, Artemio-hiromasa Murakami (Phi), Craig Parry (Aus), Michael Jonzon (Swe), Alastair Forsyth, Wade Ormsby (Aus), Miles Tunnicliff, Brad Kennedy (Aus), Ashley Hall (Aus), Jean-Baptiste Gonnet (Fra), Michael Lorenzo-Vera (Fra), Cameron Percy (Aus), Paul Casey, Brett Rumford (Aus), Stephen Dartnell (Aus), Rick Kulacz (Aus), Mark Foster, Paul Sheehan (Aus)

72Mikko Ilonen (Fin), Andrew Coltart, Anthony Summers (Aus), Marcel Siem (Ger), Ben Leong (Mal), Maarten Lafeber (Ned), Scott Drummond, Brad Lamb (Aus), Jason Knutzon (USA), Adam Crawford (Aus), Oliver Fisher, Kane Webber (USA), Alistair Presnell (Aus), Camilo Villegas (Col), Jean-Francois Lucquin (Fra)

73Simon Griffiths, David Frost (Rsa), Peter Hedblom (Swe), Mads Vibe-Hastrup (Den), Graeme Storm, Jason Scrivener (Aus), Matthew Millar (Aus), Pablo Martin (Spa), Matthew Griffin (Aus), Steve Webster, Nick Dougherty, Michael McGrath (Aus), Gary Murphy, Taco Remkes (Ned), James Kamte (Rsa), Gavin Flint (Aus), Peter O’Malley (Aus)

74Chris Downes (Aus), Ryan Haller (Aus), Scott Strange (Aus), Jarrod Moseley (Aus), Tae hee Lee (Kor), Michael Long (Nzl), Phillip Archer, Ryan Hammond (Aus), Wen-chong Liang (Chn), Richard Green (Aus), Gregory Bourdy (Fra)

75David Gleeson (Aus), Jamie Donaldson, Greg Norman (Aus), Heath Reed (Aus), Paul Broadhurst, Josh Geary (Nzl)

76Adam Bland (Aus), Angelo Que (Phi), Steven Bowditch (Aus)

77Aaron Townsend (Aus), Jason King (Aus), Ewan Porter (Aus), Anthony Brown (Aus), Rhys Davies, Chris Rodgers, Peter Fowler (Aus), Steve Jones (USA)

78Shiv Kapur (Ind), Peter Wilson (Aus), Michael Moore (Aus)

80Terry Price (Aus)

DQ: Mitchell Brown (Aus)