All eyes are on you when you’re the defending champion at a tournament, and Brett Rumford made sure they stayed there on Thursday. The Aussie fired an 8-under 64 to lead the ISPS Handa World Super 6 Perth by two strokes after one round.
Rumford looked like anything but the defending champion early on, staggering out of the gate with bogeys on No. 1 and No. 3. He turned it around with three birdies between #4 and #8 to get to 1-under at the turn.
On the back nine, Rumford looked like he hadn’t left the course since winning the title a year ago. He birdied seven of the nine holes, including five out of six between No. 10 and No. 15 to record a 29 on the back nine.
“I just think there’s some golf courses just suit your eye and others don’t,” he said.
“It’s not always the case but generally you find as a trend that a lot of players go back and play well when they’ve had a lot of good performances there, and this is one of them. I don’t know what it is but it definitely seems to be some kind of home course advantage. I’m leading, I’m inside the top 24 and that’s my only focus this week, finish inside that number. Whether I lead the qualifying again? That would be a nice bonus but it’s not my priority this week and I’m playing accordingly.”
Fellow Aussie James Nitties and England’s Lee Westwood are tied for second after each man pocketed a 6-under 66 on Thursday. Although he has not won a tournament since April of 2014, Westwood is off to an impressive start to the 2018 season. On Thursday, Westwood birdied three of the first six holes and was 4-under on the back nine including an eagle on No. 15.
Brett Rumford still lead the ISPS Handa World Super 6 tournament after two rounds on Friday, but he had some company at the top.
European Tour vet Lee Westwood is the tournament’s co-leader through Friday’s action. Both men are 8-under through 36 holes as Rumford, a Perth native and the tournament’s defending champion, angles to make it two in a row.
“We both played well,” said Westwood. “We haven’t given too many shots away, made a few putts and I chipped in a couple of times. It’s been fun over the first couple of days.
“I’m just trying to shoot as low as possible. I know if I carry on playing like I’m playing and a few putts start to go in, because I didn’t really hole any putts today, I’ll be thereabouts on the leaderboard.
“To be perfectly honest, match play is anybody’s. You’re going to need a lot of luck to win it.”
Rumford was in the lead until bogeying #17, but the 44-year-old Westwood gave the stroke back with a bogey on No. 18.
“I’m happy to have signed for 72,” said Rumford. “Happy to be tied for the lead and obviously happy that I’m in that top eight.
“You would have to lie to say that you’re not aware of your opponent, but I’m not playing against [Westwood], I’m not changing my game plan or swing thoughts or nothing, I’m just playing golf.”