Backstrom scores rarest of birds in Russia


Sweden's Joakim Backstrom today recorded a rare albatross on his way to the clubhouse lead in the first round of the Inteco Russian Open.

Starting from the 10th 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't really react. They gave me a clap, but not the kind of reaction that you would expect for an albatross so I wasn't 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."

Backstrom holds a one-shot lead over South African Darren Fichardt, with Welsh duo Sion Bebb and Garry Houston among a group of players a shot further back on five under.

Gary Murphy opened with a three-under 69 to be in a tie for 17th in the Russian capital, while David Higgins carded a level par 72.

John Daly was three strokes further adrift 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, and again struggled in the early stages in the Russian capital.

Starting from the 10th, the American bogeyed the 11th and 13th and, after a birdie on the 14th, dropped another shot on the 16th to lie two over par.

Despite struggling with tendonitis in his left elbow and a hand injury, Daly was still able to take advantage of the 548-yard par-five 17th to record his second birdie of the day.

Another birdie on the par-five second hole was quickly followed by a bogey on the third, and the two-time major winner then failed to take advantage of the par-five fifth, missing from 10ft for birdie.

However, a superb approach to three feet on the sixth was converted for birdie and sparked a superb finish from the 42-year-old.

Birdies at the seventh and ninth followed to see Daly home in 33 and on target to make his second halfway cut from four appearances in regular European Tour events this year.