Alejandro Cañizares took a share of the first round lead at the ISPS HANDA Perth International as the Spaniard looks to keep his DP World Tour Championship hopes alive.
After a promising start to the season, including a runner-up finish on home soil in the Reale Seguros Open de España, Cañizares’ form tailed off and he started the week 70th on The Race to Dubai – with only the top 60 making the trip to Jumeirah Golf Estates at the end of November.
With events fast running out, the 29 year old is keen to get his place booked sooner rather than later.
“I'm 70th at the moment so this is either my last or my second to last tournament of the year,” he said. “I need a good finish - if I win it will fix a lot of things.
“I'm not sure what finish I need because there are still some big tournaments going on at the moment. Singapore is a big tournament and BMW and HSBC, some guys behind me are playing that, so you never know. I'm just going to try to play my best.”
Cañizares had seven birdies in a bogey-free 65 at Lake Karrinyup to share the lead with New Zealander Michael Hendry.
A chip-in at the short eighth provided the fourth and final birdie of a front nine 32, and three gains followed on the back nine for Cañizares, who won on his fifth European Tour start back in 2006 but has not tasted success in the 158 events since.
“It was a good round,” he added. “I hit the ball really well and made some putts, so I’m really happy.
“I pretty steady the whole round and gave myself plenty of chances. I think I only missed two greens in the whole round.
“The year has been a little slow since March. I started pretty well, a couple top tens, a top five in México in the US PGA Tour event, and then finished second in the Spanish Open.
“Since then, it's been very slow. I haven't played good enough to be in contention, and every week I was falling down the rankings.
“So I came here from Portugal; I didn't play very good last week. I hit the ball terribly, but I came here and I felt great. Maybe the 24 hours travelling helped - I feel good with my swing and hopefully the week keeps going like this.”
Hendry had eight birdies and a single dropped shot in his seven under par round, while Argentina’s Emiliano Grillo sat third on six under.
“I actually shot 65 in the Pro-Am yesterday as well,” said Hendry, who predominantly plays his golf on the OneAsia Tour.
“I think around here, if you can hit your drives in the right place, you can give yourself lots of opportunities to hit it close with wedges. I hit my driver pretty well and wedged it well and putted it well.
“All in all, just a really solid round of golf. If you're going to play good golf, you're going to have a lot of opportunities around this golf course. Luckily enough, I capitalized on them today.”
The 20 year old Qualifying School graduate Grillo shot four birdies and an eagle three from ten feet at the long 15th.
Grillo has enjoyed a solid debut season with a best finish to date of tied tenth in Austria, and at 112th on The Race to Dubai a good finish this week in Australia could secure his playing rights for 2013.
“I hit a lot of fairways out there, that's very important on this golf course and a lot of greens and then the ones that I missed, I got up and down,” Grillo said of his bogey-free effort. “So it was a good round overall.
“There are not many tournaments left, so I’m trying to make as much ground as I can this week.
“It was very nice to get my card through Q School last year. It's been a great year so far and I'm enjoying it.”
England’s Paul Casey continued to show signs of a return to form following his injury-plagued year with a 67 for a share of fourth place with compatriot Andrew Johnston.