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Lee Westwood two off the lead in Perth

Defending champion Brett Rumford raced to the turn in 29 en route to an opening 64.

Lee Westwood lies just two shots behind first-round leader Brett Rumford after an impressive opening 66 at the ISPS HANDA World Super 6 Perth.

Defending champion Rumford raced to the turn in 29 en route to an opening 64 in the event at Lake Karrinyup Country Club, where the first three rounds are played as a regular strokeplay event before the field is reduced to 24 players on Sunday, with a six-hole matchplay format determining the winner.

Former world number one Westwood, who has not won an event since securing a third Indonesian Masters in April 2015, started on the back nine and picked up birdies at the 11th and 12th.

A chip-in eagle on the 15th briefly saw him keep pace with home favourite Rumford, who mixed 10 birdies with two bogeys to reach eight under.

The 44 year old Westwood added further gains on the second, third and sixth to lie second on six under par, good enough for a share of second alongside Australia’s James Nitties.

Westwood has slipped to 73rd in the world as a result of his winless streak, but after missing the cut in his first two events of 2018, carded a 62 as he finished 11th in Malaysia last week.

“The swing’s just getting better all the time,” Westwood told

“I played very nicely, very solidly. Hit a lot of good shots, drove the ball well, putted nicely as well without anything really going in for me. I chipped in on 15 for eagle but other than that, everything was pretty close range.

“There was a bit of breeze up but if you hit the ball well, then it’s very scoreable. The golf course is in great condition. If you start putts on line, they tend to go in.

“It was nice to shoot 66. I don’t think this is a tournament where you want to be playing catch-up, really. You want to get yourself in the mix and try and cruise through the second and third days and get into that top 24.”

Two more Australians, Wade Ormsby and Jason Scrivener, were alongside France’s Sebastien Gros, Japan’s Daisuke Kataoka, Malaysian Nicholas Fung, New Zealand’s Gareth Paddison, Korea’s Yikeun Chang and Thai pair Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Prom Meesawat on five under.

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