Paul Casey starts strongly in first round of ISPS HANDA Perth International
Last Updated: 18/10/12 11:58pm
Paul Casey: just two off the pace after the opening round
Paul Casey is on the heels of the leaders after an opening five-under 67 in the ISPS HANDA Perth International.
The Englishman, who has struggled this year after suffering a dislocated shoulder in a snowboarding accident last Christmas, took advantage of the benign conditions on the picturesque Lake Karrinyup Country Club course to end the day in tied fourth.
He birdied all four par fives and added another at the par four 10th to trail joint leaders Michael Hendry and Alejandro Canizares by just two shots.
First round leaderboard
(GB & Ire unless stated)
-7 M Hendry (NZ)
-7 A Canizares (Spa)
-6 E Grillo (Arg)
-5 A Johnston
-5 P Casey
Click here for collated scores
"I've got some very good golf that is starting to show through," Casey told Sky Sports News.
"I'm going to fight and start playing the golf I know I'm capable of and today was the start of that."
While his injury problems have seen Casey slip to 132nd in the world, he was the highest-ranked player on a leaderboard dominated by little known names.
New Zealander Hendry, world ranked 574, fired eight birdies in his 65 and that seven-under total was matched by Canizares, whose only win on the European Tour came six years ago.
American Ryder Cup star Jason Dufner started brightly with three birdies in his opening six holes but had to settle for a 71 while he was joined on one-under by 2011 Masters champion Charl Schwartzel of South Africa and Italy's Edoardo Molinari.
The tournament, with a purse of US $2million, is co-sanctioned by the European and Australasian Tours.
Race To Dubai
Joint leader Canizares was runner-up at the Reale Seguros Open de Espana earlier this season but has since slipped to 70th in the race to Dubai.
With only the top 60 set to qualify to play at the Jumeirah Golf Estates in late November, the 29-year-old knows this may be his last chance.
"I'm 70th at the moment so this is either my last or my second to last tournament of the year," he told the European Tour's official website.
"I need a good finish - if I win it will fix a lot of things."
Argentinian Emiliano Grillo, who is also ranked outside the top 500, sat in between Casey and the leaders after his 66 included an eagle three at the 15th.
Casey had hinted at a return to form in last week's Shinhan Donghae Open on the Korea Golf Tour where he finished third.
He hasn't managed a single top 20 on either the European or US Tour in 2012.