Backstroms 62 Sets Pace in Italy

By Sports NetworkMay 3, 2007, 4:00 pm
European Tour MILAN, Italy -- Joakim Backstrom fired a course-record-setting 10-under-par 62 Thursday to take a one-stroke lead after the opening round of the Italian Open at Castello di Tolcinasco Golf & Country Club.
 
Markus Brier birdied four of the last six holes to get within a shot of Backstrom at minus-9. Brier's 63 matched the previous course record first set by Richard Finch in 2005 and matched last year by Soren Kjeldsen.
 
Japan's Taichi Teshima is alone in third place at 8-under-par 64. James Heath, Andrew McLardy and Alvaro Quiros share seventh at minus-7.
 
Backstrom got off to a nice start as he eagled the par-5 opening hole. He came back two holes later with his first birdie to quickly get to 3 under.
 
The Swede settled down to par five consecutive holes. Backstrom turned in 4 under thanks to a birdie on the par-5 ninth.
 
'I didn't really hole any putts until nine,' admitted Backstrom, whose lone tour win came at the 2005 Aa St. Omer Open. 'Then I had a good stretch.'
 
Around the turn, Backstrom turned it on. He birdied the 10th and made it three straight as he found the bottom of the cup with his birdie try on the 11th.
 
Backstrom, who missed four cuts in a five-start span earlier this year, capped a run of four straight birdies at the par-5 12th. He dropped in a birdie putt on the par-3 14th to get to minus-8.
 
At the par-5 15th, Backstrom's second shot stopped 7 feet from the hole. He rolled that putt in for eagle.
 
Needing to birdie out to shoot 59, Backstrom was unable to reach the magic number. He left a birdie putt short on 16 and missed the green at the last as he parred the final three holes.
 
'Not really, actually I was just happy about playing well,' said Backstrom of whether he thought about shooting 59. 'I was surprised when I came in that I didn't have that thought, but it usually doesn't help to have that thought so I am glad it didn't come.'
 
Backstrom has battled several injuries over the last 14 years. As he stated, 'I grew a foot taller in 18 months when I was 15 and my muscles didn't grow at the same time.' That has led to back and wrist injuries over time.
 
'I'm okay physically, I'm not great, but I am able to play 18 holes and practice a bit,' Backstrom said. 'The wrist that was bothering me last year is okay now. As long as I do what I'm supposed to do, its fine.'
 
Brier, who won three weeks ago at the Volvo China Open, birdied two of his first three holes Thursday. After a bogey on seven, he eagled the ninth to turn in minus-3.
 
The Austrian closed with a remarkable stretch of golf as he birdied six of the final seven holes to get within one of Backstrom's lead.
 
Anders Hansen, who shared second place here the last two years, opened with a 6-under-par 66. He was joined in a share of seventh place by Brett Rumford, Nicolas Colsaerts, Richard Finch, David Griffiths, Garry Houston and Raphael Jacquelin.
 
Defending champion Francesco Molinari bogeyed the 18th hole Thursday to shoot 67. He was joined at minus-5 by Nick Dougherty and American Duffy Waldorf among others.
 
Waldorf leads an American contingent that includes 1996 U.S. Open champ Steve Jones (70), 2006 U.S. Ryder Cup captain Tom Lehman (70), who was paired with Molinari, and Notah Begay III (73).
 
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    What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

    Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

    Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

    Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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    Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

    Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

    While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

    The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

    So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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    Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

    By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

    The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

    As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

    Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

    And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

    And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

    McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

    The Ryder Cup topped his list.

    Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

    When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

    “Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”



    McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

    Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

    “The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

    European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

    And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

    The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

    Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

    And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

    Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

    The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

    The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

    More bulletin board material, too.

    Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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    Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

    Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

    The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

    It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

    The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

    “I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

    Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.