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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