Justin Rose, runner-up in South Africa the last two weeks, continued his fine start to the season with a two under par 70 in the first round of golf's Heineken Classic at the Vine Resort in Perth today.

The 20-year-old Hampshire player had not intended playing in Australia, planning instead to return home where his father, Ken, is back in hospital having more treatment in his battle to beat leukaemia.

But Ken pointed out: "Justin got an invite to play in Perth and we were happy for him to go down even though he only arrived late on Tuesday. His form is so good right now he might as well keep playing and try and strike again while the iron is hot."

Young Justin justified the long trip with a score which was just three off the early lead held jointly by Pierre Fulke, Thomas Bjorn and Australians Shane Tate and Scott Laycock.

Rose's opening round was highlighted by a seven-iron to three feet for an eagle at the 18th.

"I didn't feel that great with my game, so I'm happy to shoot a decent score," said Rose. "I've not been over par in any round this year and seven of the nine have been 70 or better."'

Rose, currently riding fourth in the Volvo Order of Merit, was paired with defending champion Michael Campbell and Adam Scott, the young Australian who pipped him to the Alfred Dunhill championship in Johannesburg a fortnight ago.

Campbell also eagled the 18th in a 69, but Scott began with a double bogey seven and had to battle back for a 72.