Perth, Western Australia (SportsNetwork.com) - Peter Hedblom opened with a 4- under 68 on Thursday to grab a share of the lead after the first round of the ISPS HANDA Perth International.
Hedblom was joined atop the leaderboard by James Nitties, Clint Rice and former British Amateur champion Jin Jeong.
American Dustin Johnson posted a 3-under 69 to grab a share of fifth place. He stands alongside Nick O'Hern, Nick Cullen, Bjorn Akesson, Sam Little, Fredrik Andersson Hed, Dimitrios Papadatos and amateur Brady Watt.
Defending champion Bo Van Pelt managed a 2-under 70. He was joined in 13th place by Josh Younger, JB Hansen, Robert Coles, Rohan Blizard, Anthony Brown, Mark Brown and Thomas Petersson.
Hedblom and the other three leaders all started on the 10th tee at Lake Karrinyup Country Club. Hedblom dropped in back-to-back birdies at 11 and 12. He stumbled to a bogey on the 14th, but bounced back with a birdie at No. 15.
The Swede parred four in a row from the 16th. He faltered to another bogey at the second, but atoned for that mistake with birdies at three and four. After three pars in a row, Hedblom birdied the par-3 eighth to gain a share of the lead.
"The tension is nothing really. Today it felt like any tournament, if I will be leading playing the last day, then maybe I'll feel the tension, but right now it's just one round out of four. It's good to at least have a chance to do it," said Hedblom, who needs to get inside the top 110 on the Race to Dubai standings to keep his tour card. "The game is there, you just need a little bit of confidence."
Nitties, who won in 2011 on the Web.com Tour, birdied the 11th and 12th, but bogeyed the 13th. He got that shot back on the 15th.
At the first, the Australian birdied the first and second to move to minus-4. Nitties tripped to consecutive bogeys at four and five, but he got those strokes back with birdies on eight and nine.
Rice played five PGA Tour Canada events this year, but missed four cuts and withdrew from the other event. He carded a birdied on the 11th, then ran off seven consecutive pars from the 12th.
After another par at the first, Rice collected birdies on the second and third. The Australian birdied the par-5 seventh, then parred the final two holes to close out a bogey-free round.
Jeong got off to a fast start with birdies at 10 and 11. He traded a birdie for a bogey from the 14th and again from the 16th.
The 23-year-old Korean holed out for eagle on the par-4 18th to make the turn at minus-4. Jeong parred the first three around the turn before stumbling to a bogey at the fourth.
Jeong carded four pars in a row from the fifth. At the ninth, his last, Jeong holed a bunker shot for birdie and a share of the lead.
"It's only the first day and still three rounds to go and plenty of great players out here, so you never know what's going to happen," Jeong stated. "I've just got to do what I'm doing and just keep hitting good shots and hopefully that's good enough."
NOTES: This is the final event for players to get inside the top 110 in the Race to Dubai standing ... Hedblom started the week 179th on that list and needs a win or a second-place finish to avoid his 11th trip to the European Tour Qualifying School.