Date: July 25, 2008

Paddison just off the pace

A rare albatross has helped Sweden&aposs Joakim Backstrom to claim a share of the lead after the first round of the Inteco Russian Open. Starting from the 10th hole at Le Meridien Moscow Country Club, Backstrom had already birdied the 12th and 14th when he holed his second shot to the 561-yard par-five 15th. “It was a four iron from 233 yards,” Backstrom said after two bogeys and four more birdies completed a round of 65, seven-under-par. “I hit it well and it pitched on the green and then disappeared, but the people sitting around the green didn&apost really react.” “They gave me a clap, but not the kind of reaction that you would expect for an albatross so I wasn&apost sure what happened.” “But when I walked up to the green it was there in the hole. Thank you very much! It was a great start, five under after six holes.” New Zealand&aposs Gareth Paddison is three shots off the pace at four-under, while Aussies Scott Barr and Terry Pilkadaris shot rounds of 70 to be at two-under. Kiwi Steve Alker is at one-over. Backstrom&aposs early clubhouse target was matched later in the day by fellow Swede Fredrik Henge, Finland&aposs Roope Kakko and England&aposs David Carter. Carter partnered Nick Faldo to victory for England in the World Cup in New Zealand in 1998, the same year he won the Irish Open. But the 36-year-old has struggled to reproduce that form since and lost his card at the end of 2007 after finishing 172nd on the money list. In six events this season he has made just one halfway cut but produced a flawless round today, going out in 34 and then firing five birdies in a row from the first. John Daly was five shots off the lead after recovering from a poor start to return an opening 70, two-under-par. Former champion Daly carded rounds of 80 and 89 to finish 29-over-par and joint last in the Open at Royal Birkdale last week – and was two-over after seven holes in Moscow. But despite struggling with tendonitis in his left elbow and a hand injury, Daly hit back with three birdies in his last four holes to give himself a chance of making his second halfway cut from four appearances in regular European Tour events this year. “It could have been really bad,” Daly admitted. “I probably hit two of the worst iron shots that I have ever hit.” “They just went dead right off the tee on two of the par threes – I made a good bogey on one of them and just missed my par on the other.” “My hand is hurting pretty badly, but luckily the ground here is soft so I can get through the ball.” “That wasn&apost possible last week. If the course had been hard this week I probably wouldn&apost have been able to play.” Defending champion Per-Ulrik Johansson had to settle for an opening round of 69, three-under, after a poor drive on the 18th cost him a double-bogey six. That was nothing compared to amateur Alexei Kovalev however, the Montreal Canadiens ice hockey star staggering to a round of 99, 27-over-par. Former world tennis No.1 Yevgeny Kafelnikov returned an 89. First Round Scores from the Russian Open Golf Championship, Moscow -7: Joakim Backstrom 65, David Carter 65, Fredrik Henge 65, Roope Kakko 65 -6: Darren Fichardt 66 -5: Sion Bebb 67, Luis Claverie 67, Francois Delamontagne 67, Garry Houston 67, Shiv Kapur 67, Jose Manuel Lara 67, Mikael Lundberg 67, Andrew Marshall 67, Jarmo Sandelin 67, Carl Suneson 67 Also: -4: Gareth Paddison (New Zealand) 68 -2: Scott Barr (Australia) 70, Terry Pilkadaris (Australia) 70 +1: Steve Alker (New Zealand) 73