Robertson takes one-stroke lead in Heineken Classic

PERTH, Australia, AFP

Scotland’s Dean Robertson fired a seven-under par 65 to snatch the lead after the opening day of the A$1.75 million (US$962,000) Heineken Classic golf tournament at the Vines course near here Thursday. He had one shot to spare over joint second pair, Greg Norman and Mick O’Hern, of Australia, on 66. They were followed by four players a further stroke back in equal fourth place — Australians Shane Tait and Scott Laycock, Denmark’s Thomas Bjorn and Pierre Fulke, of Sweden. Norman played an almost perfect 18th hole, claiming an eagle. He was only millimetres away from joining Robertson when he narrowly missed an albatross two at the par-5 finishing hole. This was after his six-iron approach from about 170 metres hit the base of the flagstick on the full and landed about 2m away. O’Hern matched him a minute later with a short birdie putt. Norman, looking refreshed after a break from the game, said he had worked hard on his putting, which was a major problem for him last year.

“I’ve worked really hard on my short game,” he said. Norman achieved his challenging score during the most difficult part of the day, when the breeze was brisk and the greens well worn. He said cool weather had allowed the greens to retain their moisture, making it easier to be aggressive with approach shots. O’Hern, in possibly the best form of his career following his quarter-final appearance at the world matchplay event in Melbourne last month, played another solid round and said he was seeing the hole “really big”.