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Derksen sets Perth course record to lead
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Anthony Kim tees off on the 10th hole on the first day of the Johnnie Walker Classic at The Vines in Perth, Western Australia, yesterday. The American shot a four-under 68.

Anthony Kim tees off on the 10th hole on the first day of the Johnnie Walker Classic at The Vines in Perth, Western Australia, yesterday. The American shot a four-under 68. 

Jan Derksen shot a career-best round of eight-under-par 64 to lead after the opening round of the Johnnie Walker Classic yesterday.

The 35-year-old Dutchman collected eight birdies in a bogey-free round to set a course record for the new layout at The Vines in Perth, Western Australia.

Derksen led Australia's Tony Carolan and Mardan Mamat of Singapore by a single stroke, while Lee Westwood and his fellow Briton John Bickerton and Ireland's Damien McGrane all finished the day a further shot back on 66.

Derksen's 64 was his lowest-ever round on the European Tour, eclipsing his previous best of 65, and gave him the perfect platform to launch his bid for a third title after winning the 2003 Dubai Desert Classic and the 2005 Madeira Island Open.

"I have shot a lot of 65s (on the European Tour) but never a 64," Derksen told reporters. "It's a good start and it's always nice to have...but there's a lot of golf to be played."

Derksen's unexpected charge to the lead featured four birdies in a row between the eighth and 11th holes and came just a week after he missed the cut at the Malaysian Open after suffering heat stroke.

"That was very humid," he said. "This is still hot but it is a much better heat for me.

"I've been struggling a little bit with the driver lately but this week on this course it's not only the driver, it's a lot of other things as well, there's a lot of position play."

Mardan, the 2006 Singapore Masters champion, also made eight birdies, including three in his last four holes, but a lone bogey on the par-three eighth hole cost him a chance for a share of the lead.

Westwood made a slow start to his opening round but birdied four of the last seven holes to put himself in contention.

"I started off hitting a couple of poor shots, a couple of pulls and got away with one but I corrected the fault," he said.

"That's what I've been good at doing the last couple of years, correcting things pretty quickly and I started hitting good shots after that and I played well for the last 12 holes."

Bickerton made his move midway through his round, making an eagle at the ninth then reeling off four consecutive birdies to pick up six shots in five holes.

Scotland's Colin Montgomerie and American Anthony Kang, who won the Malaysian Open last week, were among a group of seven players to shoot 67. The others included New Zealand amateur Danny Lee, Ireland's Peter Lawrie, Spain's Ignacio Garrido and Japan's Hiroyuki Fujita.

Colombia's Camilo Villegas, the only player in the tournament ranked in the world's top-10, shot an even-par 72, while American world No. 11 Anthony Kim fired a 68.

Australia's 54-year-old Greg Norman, still revelling in his third-place finish at last year's British Open, could only manage a 75 after struggling with his putter and is in danger of missing the cut.

"Seventy-five is a bit of a shock to me but that's my score and I've got to take it," Norman said.

(Agencies via Shanghai Daily February 20, 2009)

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