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The other guys star on first day of Perth International

Date

Simon White

Paul Casey (second from right) was expected to be a major contender at the Perth International; (from left) Emiliano Grillo, Michael Hendry and Ashley Hall were not.

Paul Casey (second from right) was expected to be a major contender at the Perth International; (from left) Emiliano Grillo, Michael Hendry and Ashley Hall were not.

If you read the script - or at least the promotional material - then you might have expected to see Jason Dufner and Charl Schwartzel atop the Perth International leaderboard.

Instead, after day one, the names Michael Hendry, Alejandro Canizares, Emiliano Grillo, Andrew Johnston and Ashley Hall were up in lights.

The nature of golf means little-known players are often among the frontunners in the first two days of a tournament.

But even allowing for that, Hendry, Canizares, Grillo, Johnston and Hall make for a fairly unexpected quintet to be in the leading bunch after day one of a $2 million event.

Canizares, whose home course at Valderrama had its flagship event cancelled this year because of the Spanish economic crisis, at least has a European win and a top-40 money list finish to his credit.

The rest, however, are the very definition of unheralded - although not, necessarily, in the stories they have to tell.

Hendry, a New Zealander who spends a lot of time practising on the Gold Coast, was glad just to be out on a course playing somewhere, after spending more hours on ranges than courses during the winter.

Argentinian Grillo, the second-youngest player on the European tour, has had to come all the way to Perth to try and ensure he remains eligible to play next northern winter.

Johnston, who stands 175cm tall but weighs 96 kilograms and calls himself "Beef", has a website devoted to his fledging exploits on the European tour.

The best story of all, though, may belong to another burly lad in the shape of Hall, a 29-year-old from Victoria.

Up until a few weeks ago Hall wasn't sure whether he'd play professional golf at all this summer. Looking at his finances, he figured he might be better off finding a "real" job.

"I was trying to find ways for people to loan me stuff, and I've never had to do that before," Hall reflected after his opening round 68 yesterday.

"And I didn't know (how I could earn money away from golf), so it was upsetting that I didn't know what I was going to do."

It wasn't the first time Hall has had to face up to his potential golfing mortality. But with a wife, a young son and a mortgage, it was the most real the battle to eke out a living on the tour had ever been.

Fortunately, a $50,000 cheque at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship earlier in the month ensured Hall could continue to chase his golfing dreams, which will now include a trip to the US later in year for the final for the final ever Q-School qualifiers for the USGPA tour.

In the meantime, he's hoping to be in contention late into the weekend at the inaugural International, having carded five birdies and only one bogey yesterday.

"I find it's a course that you've just got to plod your way around and take advantage of a couple of short holes," Hall said.

"I am going to do exactly the same as what I did [on Thursday], play fairly conservative and keep bigger numbers off the card."

While Hall and company are planning on being in the running into Sunday, hometown hero Greg Chalmers sounded a note of caution.

At the tender age of 39, Chalmers now qualifies as a veteran - something reinforced on Wednesday when he found himself the youngest person "by 15 years" on the Lake Karrinyup driving range.

"I think understanding the that first round -- if you went out and shot 7-under and you're leading the tournament, it doesn't mean as much as you might think it means," Chalmers said of the unheralded - and unknown - names at the pointy end of the leaderboard

"And I think the hardest thing for most people, and it's something I struggle with in my career is being used to being in that fishbowl; being used to being that guy that everyone is watching to see what you were doing.

"Most kids when they start out, young guys, going out, shooting 6-under, 7-under on the first day and then feel like people are watching and then they find a way to mess that up. That tends to be the case."

If it proves to be the case in the next few days, then Chalmers and Paul Casey are the best-placed of the big names to take advantage.

While Charl Schwartzel (-2), Jason Dufner (-1) and Bo Van Pelt (-2) all struggled at times during their opening rounds, Chalmers rebounded from a bogey at the first hole to finish with a solid 68.

Casey, on the comeback trail from a shoulder injury sustained in a snowboarding accident, had a bogey-free 67 yesterday that would have been significantly better if a couple more putts had dropped between holes 12 and 14.

The 35-year-old, who teed off at 12.30pm yesterday, is looking forward to an earlier start today.

"I actually like the position I'm sitting in right now, because those guys who shot 7-under, will have to play in the afternoon and who knows, my experience playing in Australia, always gets firm and fast in the afternoon," Casey said.

Leaderboard after day one:
Michael Hendry -7
Alejandro Canizares -7
Emiliano Grillo -6
Paul Casey -5
Andrew Johnston -5
Ashley Hall -4
Max McCardle -4
Jacon Scrivener -4
Rhys Davies -4
Greg Chalmers -4
Andrew Dodt -4
Other notables: Jason Dufner -1 , Charl Schwartzel -2 , Bo Van Pelt -2, Craig Parry +4, Brett Rumford +2.

Full scores

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