Australia’s John Wade and Norway’s Thorbjorn Olesen couldn’t have started any hotter at the Perth International on Thursday, but neither man could shake each other at the top of the leader board.
Wade and Olesen each shot a course record-tying 64 on Thursday to sit tied atop the leader board at 8-under. The fast start is especially important to Olesen, who is currently 64th in the Race to Dubai standings. A win or strong finish here could bump him up into the top 60 and qualify him for the potentially lucrative Final Series.
Entering the tournament, Olesen was €25,231 behing NO. 60 Darren Fichardt in the Race to Dubai rankings. Playing in the first group of the day, Olesen sprinted out of the gate with four birdies in his first seven holes. He duplicated the feat on the back nine, including three straight birdies on 10-12.
It was more than six hours later that the 46-year-old Wade, playing a non-Challenger event for the first time since this same event last year, took the course.
Wade has played just three large tournaments since 2008, is currently the assistant golf pro at the Commonwealth Golf Club in Victoria. Just 2-under at the turn, Wade hit birdies on 10, 12, 13, and 14, then wowed the crowd with an eagle 3 on the 533-yard No. 15 to reach 8-under.
The unlikely pair own a 2-stroke lead on a quartet of competitors: Australia’s Michael Sim, Korea’s Sihwan Kim; the UK’s Tom Lewis; and Scotland’s Peter Whiteford. Whiteford was 5-under at the turn thanks to an eagle on 7, but was just 1-under on the back nine.
Defending champion Charl Schwartzel is one of 11 players bunched into a tie for 14th at 4-under. The South African ranked 24th in the world recorded five birdies and a bogey.
American Jason Dufner, seeing his first action in two months, fired a 2-under 70 that was an erratic mixture of birdies and bogeys. Dufner’s front nine consisted of five birdies, two bogeys and two pars.