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David Higgins & Peter Lawrie five off lead at Perth International

Updated: Thursday, 17 Oct 2013 14:29 | Comments

Peter Lawrie's caddy avoids the moving hazards at the Lake Karrinyup course
Peter Lawrie's caddy avoids the moving hazards at the Lake Karrinyup course

Irish pair David Higgins and Peter Lawrie are five shots off the lead after the opening round of the ISPS HANDA Perth International.

Both golfers are looking to finish the year inside the top 110 on the money list to secure their European Tour card for the 2014 season.

Lawrie was in 114th place on the list at the start of the tournament with Higgins one place behind the Dubliner.

Sweden's Peter Hedblom made a strong start to his final bid to retain his playing privileges by taking a share of the lead on the first day.

The 43-year-old is currently ranked 179th in the Race to Dubai standings and faces an 11th trip to the European Tour qualifying school if he fails to break into the top 110 at the end of the week.

Hedblom fired a four-under-par 68 to tie for the lead with Korea's Jin Jeong and Australians James Nitties and Clint Rice at Lake Karrinyup.

The three-time European Tour winner needs a top-two finish to avoid a return trip to PGA Catalunya and knows he must keep up his form for the next three days.

"I'm so far back I need a win or to finish second really," Hedblom told europeantour.com.

"You have nothing to hold back; you just have to go for everything. You're not happy to finish third or fourth or fifth or sixth or 10th, just play as good as you can.

"The tension is nothing really. Today it felt like any tournament - 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. It's good to at least have a chance to do it.

"The game is there, you just need a little bit of confidence."

England's Richard Bland, ranked 109th, shot a three-over-par round of 75 while Oliver Fisher (par), Richard Finch (par) and Soren Hansen (one under) are the other men who need success to avoid the qualifying school.

Former amateur champion Jeong, who chipped in at the 18th for an eagle two, is one man who has made a good start, although he knows there is still a long way to go.

"It's only the first day and still three rounds to go and plenty of great players out here, so you never know what's going to happen," he said.

"I've just got to do what I'm doing and just keep hitting good shots and hopefully that's good enough."

American Ryder Cup star Dustin Johnson opened with a three-under-par 69 to be part of an eight-way tie for fifth.

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