HONOLULU (Hawaii): Playing at opposite ends of the day, South Africa’s Retief Goosen and Kenny Perry fired six-under-par 64s to share the first-round lead in the US$4.5 million Hawaii Open at Waialae Country Club on Thursday.
Chris Riley, Chris DiMarco and Brenden Pappas of South Africa were on 65 while world number two Ernie Els, Robert Gamez, Dicky Pride, Chris Smith, Chad Campbell, Fred Funk, Japan’s Shigeki Maruyama and Australians Aaron Baddeley and Peter Lonard shot 66s.
Goosen, playing in the calmer morning conditions with fellow countryman Els, took full advantage with a bogey-free round that included four birdies and an eagle at the 18th hole.
“I played nicely today, I drove the ball really good,” Goosen said. “My putter went a bit dry on me in the middle of the round.”
Goosen, who has had problems with his driving, has made a change to his set-up and it has yielded dividends over the last two weeks.
He finished tied for fourth at last week’s Mercedes Championships. All five rounds he has played this season have been under par, and the last four have been in the 60s.
The Hawaii Open, though, will be Goosen’s last event on the PGA Tour for a while. With his wife Tracy expecting their first child, he is unlikely to play again until the Players Championship at the end of March.
But he said he was leaving open the possibility of playing in the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship at La Costa, California at the end of February.
Perry, who shared the first-round lead here last year after shooting a 65, was one shot better off on Thursday in his first competitive round of the season.
He has not played much since the Tour Championship last November and is treating this week as practice.
“I get out there and the next thing I know I start executing some flawless shots,” Perry said. “I was more in control of my game today then I can ever remember in my life.”
Perry, who has won four times on the PGA Tour, was seven-under over the last 10 holes to charge from one-over to six-under.
“I was very focused and everything came out the way I dreamed,” he said.
n JOHANNESBURG: Britons Bradley Dredge and Stephen Dodd matched heatwave conditions by firing seven-under 65s on Thursday to share the Dunhill Championship first round lead.
They are one stroke ahead of locals Louis Oosthuizen and Callie Swart and Zimbabwean Sean Farrell at Houghton Golf Club in an affluent, leafy suburb of the South African commercial capital.
Paul Casey, Ben Mason, Mark Roe and Chris Williams of Britain, American Scott Dunlap and Craig Lile of South Africa were a further shot behind in the European Tour event on a day of uncomfortable heat.
Trevor Immelman, winner of the South African Open last weekend on a Cape course he played regularly as a child, opened with a 69, his round spoilt by a double-bogey six finish.
Lee Westwood, 2000 European Order of Merit winner, shook off poor recent form to fire a one-under 71 while fellow Briton and defending champion Justin Rose was two shots worse off.
After starting with a bogey, Dredge birdied the next three holes and beat par by one stroke on five other holes as he seeks his maiden European circuit triumph. – Agencies