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Casey in contention in Perth after first day of play

Updated: Thursday, 18 Oct 2012 19:49

Paul Casey is two shots off Michael Hendry and Alejandro Canizares.
Paul Casey is two shots off Michael Hendry and Alejandro Canizares.

Former world number three Paul Casey continued his return to form to be amongst the leaders on the opening day of the inaugural ISPS HANDA Perth International.

Casey made the most of perfect conditions to card a five under par round of 67 to be two shots behind joint leaders Michael Hendry and Alejandro Canizares.

Englishman Casey has struggled for form this year after suffering a dislocated shoulder in a snowboarding accident last Christmas.

The 35-year-old did, however, showed he was on the way back at last week's Shinhan Donghae Open on the Korea Golf Tour with a third-place finish and could have gone even lower today but for some missed putts.

His long hitting served him well on the picturesque Lake Karrinyup Country Club course as he birdied all four par-fives, and picked up a further shot on the par-fourth 10th, in an unblemished round.

"I've got some very good golf that is starting to show through," Casey said in an interview on 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."

Gareth Maybin is the only Irishman in the field at the Western Australia event, and shot an opening round 77 to sit five over, twelve shots off the lead.

While 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 defied his world ranking of 574 as he fired eight birdies in his round that was matched by Canizares, whose only win on the European Tour came six years ago.

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.

While the lesser lights took centre stage tournament drawcard Jason Dufner endured a mixed day in his first appearance since the United States lost the Ryder Cup.

Dufner had got off to a healthy beginning when he birdied three of his opening six holes but from there he struggled, carding four bogeys in total, to finish the day with a 71.

Fellow American Bo van Pelt was a shot better off while Edoardo Molinari, the brother of one of Europe's Ryder Cup heroes Francesco, was also back in the field on one under.

Former Masters champion Charl Schwartzel is also competing in Perth and shot an opening round one under 71.