PERTH, Australia — Defending champion Brett Rumford shot 8-under-par 64 to take a two-stroke lead over English veteran Lee Westwood in the World Super 6 Perth on Thursday.
Rumford led the tournament from start to finish last year, dominating the opening three rounds of stroke play before winning the final-round match-play format at Lake Karrinyup Country Club.
Westwood, tied for second place after the first round with James Nitties of Australia, missed the cut in his first two tournaments of the year before finishing tied for 11th in Malaysia last week.
“I don’t think this is a tournament where you want to be playing catch-up,” Westwood said after his 66. “You want to get yourself in the mix and try and cruise through the second and third days and get into that top 24.”
Nine golfers were tied for fourth, three strokes behind Rumford.
Andrew (Beef) Johnston shot 73. He was a late replacement for fellow Englishman Tyrrell Hatton, who was the highest-ranked player in the field at No. 15 before withdrawing with a wrist injury. Danny Willett, the 2016 Masters champion, shot 76, and he and Johnston were in danger of missing the cut.
The top 24 after three rounds play a series of six-hole shootouts in the event co-sanctioned by three tours: European, Asian and PGA of Australia.
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Christian Brand shot 5-under-par 66, as did Rhein Gibson, Augusto Nunez and Albin Choi.
Augusta resident Henrik Norlander is in a seven-way tie for fifth place after 72.
Romo gets spot: Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo is making his PGA Tour debut next month in the Dominican Republic.
Romo, now the lead NFL analyst for CBS Sports, has received a sponsor’s exemption to play in the Puntacana Resort &Club Championship on March 22-25. The first-year event is held opposite the Dell Technologies Match Play, a World Golf Championships event that attracts the top 64 in the world.
“You never know how good you are until you go play and perform,” Romo said Wednesday. “Obviously, the odds going against these guys are not great. I think we all know that. But I think that’s what makes it really fun and enjoyable. I also think that the challenge that’s presented is what a competitor really wants.”
Tournaments are allotted unrestricted exemptions, and there invariably are complaints from other players who might feel as though he is taking a spot from someone who has a better chance.