Canizares and Hendry lead after first round in Perth, Dufner six off pace

Jason Dufner at the Perth International
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Jason Dufner birdied three of his opening six holes Thursday, but later added four bogeys for a 71.
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Series: European Tour

PERTH, Australia -- Alejandro Canizares shot a 7-under 65 Thursday to share a one-stroke lead with Michael Hendry after the opening round of the inaugural ISPS Handa Perth International on the European Tour.

Canizares had seven birdies in a bogey-free round at Lake Karrinyup to take the early lead before Hendry put together five birdies on his second nine to join him. Emiliano Grillo was one stroke behind the leaders, with Paul Casey and Andrew Johnson another shot back at 67.

PERTH INTERNATIONAL

The ISPS Handa Perth International marks the European Tour's return to western Australia for the first time since the 2009 Australian Masters.

Charl Schwartzel and Jason Dufner finished tied for 29th with 16 other players at 1 under.

Dufner endured a mixed day in his first appearance since the United States lost the Ryder Cup. He 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 was also back in the field on 1 under.

Canizares, who won the last of his five European Tour titles in 2006, chipped in at the short No. 8 for his fourth and final birdie of the front nine. He then made three on the back nine.

''It was a good round,'' the Spaniard said. ''I hit the ball really well and made some putts, so I'm really happy.

''I played pretty steady the whole round and gave myself plenty of chances. I think I only missed two greens in the whole round.''

The 574th-ranked Hendry of New Zealand, who conceded just one bogey in his round of eight birdies, has missed five straight cuts on the Australasian PGA and OneAsia tours since winning the New Zealand PGA Pro-Am Championship earlier this year.

''When you're playing bad and you're spending lots of money to get to events and not getting a lot of return on that investment, it does put a lot of pressure on you to play well,'' Hendry said.

Grillo is enjoying a strong debut season with a best finish a 10th in Austria. He is in 112th place in The Race to Dubai standings, and a good finish in Perth could secure his European 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 round. ''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.''

Casey continues to rediscover his form after dislocating his right shoulder in a snowboarding accident after the end of last season.

''I played wonderful golf today,'' Casey said. ''I'm really happy with 67. I thought the golf course would be trickier this afternoon ... I wasn't out this morning, but I'm going to assume it was slightly trickier this afternoon. Tee to green was beautiful, and I'm ecstatic with the number of birdie chances I had.''

Former world No. 3 Casey 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 at picturesque Lake Karrinyup as he birdied all four par 5s 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," he said. "I'm going to fight and start playing the golf I know I'm capable of and today was the start of that."

While his 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.

With only the top 60 set to qualify to play at season-ending DP World Championship in Dubai in late November, the 29-year-old Canizares knows this might be his last chance to qualify.

"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."