Peter Hedblom (Getty Images)
Peter Hedblom made the perfect start to his last-ditch attempt to avoid an 11th trip to The European Tour Qualifying School by taking a share of the first round lead at the ISPS HANDA Perth International.
The 43 year old has three European Tour titles to his name, but is currently 179th in The Race to Dubai with only the top 110 at the end of the week retaining playing privileges for next season.
That means Hedblom needs to win at Lake Karrinyup to avoid a return trip to PGA Catalunya, although having kept his card there last season the World Number 830 is trying not to let the tension take over.
“I'm so far back I need a win or to finish second really,” said Hedblom, who missed seven of his first eight cuts this year but carded six birdies and two bogeys in a four under par 68.
“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 tenth, 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.”
The Swede’s efforts left him level with Korean Jin Jeong and Australians James Nitties and Clint Rice.
Former Amateur Champion Jeong chipped in at the 18th – his ninth - for an eagle two, but was keen not to get too carried away with his good start.
“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,” said Jeong, who has been playing on The Challenge Tour this season and recently progressed to the second stage of Qualifying School.
“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.
The pre-tournament favourite Johnson was satisfied with his six-birdie round that included a 12 footer on the 15th.
“I played pretty well,” said the seven-time US PGA Tour winner. “I missed a couple short putts, but other than that, I hit it pretty well.”
Another Swede fighting to keep his card, Fredrik Andersson Hed, was also one off the pace, while defending champion Bo Van Pelt opened with a two under par 70.