Brett Rumford has started his title defence of the Perth International with an excellent eight-under-par 64 to be the clubhouse leader by two strokes.

The format of the tournament incorporates both stroke-play and match-play components, and after its introduction last year the home-favourite Rumford stormed home in the final match-play to beat Thailand’s Phachara Khongwatmai.

Lee Westwood posted a good round as well and is tied for second place along with another Australian, James Nitties.

The tournament is cut to 24 competitors after 54 holes, at which point the all-important match-play begins.

Despite his advantageous position, Rumford wasn’t getting ahead of himself:

I‘m leading, I‘m inside the top 24 and that’s my only focus this week, finish inside that number. Whether I lead the qualifying again? That would be a nice bonus but it’s not my priority this week and I‘m playing accordingly.

Speaking of his form on the Lake Karrinyup Country Club course, Rumford was also reserved:

I just think there’s some golf courses just suit your eye and others don‘t.

Rumford already has six European Tour titles to his name, the earliest of those coming in 2003, and the 40-year-old will be hoping the Perth International can give him number seven.