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Edfors leads Garcia three back in Bahrain

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2009 European TourRIFFA, Bahrain – Johan Edfors shot an 8-under 64 Thursday in the first round of the Volvo Golf Champions to take a two-stroke lead in the European Tour’s debut in Bahrain.

The Swede had nine birdies at the Colin Montgomerie-designed Royal Golf Club.

“Hit a lot of fairways, which are a bit wider than last week in Abu Dhabi, so it suits my game a bit better. And my distance control with irons was really good,” Edfors said. “I gave myself a lot of good chances within 15 feet and holed a few of those and made a couple of birdies on the par 5s.”

Four players were tied at 66 – Peter Hanson, Pablo Larrazabal, Francesco Molinari and Graeme Storm – while Sergio Garcia was tied with seven others at 67.

“A lot of good putts, a lot of good strokes,” Garcia said. “Some really nice shots, and a couple of shots in there that I kind of would like to hit again. But I think it was definitely the right way to start the year.”

Three-time major champion Padraig Harrington, who was disqualified last week, and European Ryder Cup captain Jose Maria Olazabal both shot 70, while course designer Montgomerie (72) was two strokes further adrift along with Ian Poulter.

The course in Bahrain has been criticized for its severe slopes on the greens, and Edfors agreed it was difficult to attack them.

“I started on the front nine on Tuesday, my practice round, and I was a bit amazed actually. They were really, really slopey. But they have done a great job in keeping the flags in the right positions,” Edfors said. “The greens look really, really big in the yardage book. But when you get out there and have a look at it, you can almost scrap half of the green because you can’t stop (the ball). It’s going to roll off the green anyway.”