Derksen's career day yields early lead

Updated: February 19, 2009, 6:28 AM ET
Associated Press

PERTH, Australia -- Dutch golfer Robert-Jan Derksen made eight birdies to shoot an 8-under 64 on Thursday and take a one-stroke lead after the first round of the Johnnie Walker Classic at The Vines.

Derksen was a shot ahead of Mardan Mamat of Singapore and late finishing Tony Carolan of Australia, who closed with an eagle on the par-5 18th to move into a share of second at 7-under 65.

Englishmen Lee Westwood and John Bickerton and Ireland's Damien McGrane were two strokes back in the event co-sanctioned by the Asian, European and Australian tours.

New European Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie and American Anthony Kang, who won the Malaysian Open last week, were at 5 under in a group of seven that also contained New Zealand amateur Danny Lee, Ireland's Peter Lawrie, Spain's Ignacio Garrido and Japan's Hiroyuki Fujita.

Anthony Kim was a stroke further back after a 68.

After managing just one birdie in his first seven holes, Derksen had four straight from the eighth.

The 35-year-old Dutchman, whose tour European Tour wins including the 2003 Dubai Desert Classic, missed a birdie putt on the 14th, but then birdied three of the last four holes to finish with his lowest round ever on the European Tour.

"It's a good start and it's always nice to have, but there's a lot of golf to be played," Derksen said.

Mardan, the 2006 Singapore Masters champion, birdied his last three holes to finish a shot off the pace.

Westwood struggled early in his first trip to Australia since 2003 but recovered with birdies on four of his last seven holes.

"I started off hitting a couple of poor shots, a couple of pulls and got away with one but I corrected the fault," Westwood said. "I started hitting good shots after that and I played well for the last 12 holes."

Westwood was playing in the same group as 54-year-old Greg Norman, playing his first regular, non-senior tournament appearance since last year's British Open, where he led after three rounds and finished third.

Norman was 3-over after the first round after struggling with his putter, leaving him in danger of missing the cut.

"I actually felt pretty good. I putted terribly but that was about it," he said. "A 75 was a bit of a shock to me ... The putter let me down. If I'd putted halfway decent I would have shot probably sub-70."

Defending champion Mark Brown of New Zealand was at 2-under and Colombia's Camilo Villegas, a two-time winner on the PGA Tour last year, had an even-par 72.


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

ALSO SEE