Joakim Backstrom Joakim Backstrom sets course record, takes early lead at Italia Open in Milan

Sweden's Joakim Backstrom got off to a scorching start today at the 2007 Telecom Italia Open, eagling the par-5 first hole on his way to a course record 10-under-par round of 62 to take the tournament's early lead.

Backstrom bested the course record at the Castello di Tolcinasco Golf & Country Club in Milan by one stroke.

His round included two eagles - the second coming at the par-5 15th - and six birdies, including five in his last 10 holes. He recorded no bogeys.

Backstrom, 29, turned pro in 1999 but has been plagued with back injuries during much of his short career (which has included two returns to the European PGA Tour's qualifying school).

He is currently ranked 131th on the Tour, and has only won once, at the 2005 Aa St Omer.

Midway through the first round of play, Backstrom holds a three-stroke lead over England's James Heath, with half the field still on the course.

Heath fired a seven-under-par 65, including five birdies and an eagle on the par-5 opening hole.

The first hole, at 526 yards, has already seen nine eagles on the day, and 71 birdies.

Belgium's Nicolas Colsaerts sits tied for third - with England's David Griffiths, Denmark's Anders Hansen and Wales' Garry Houston - at six-under.

Notable Americans in the field include Duffy Waldorf, sitting at 2-under midway through his round, and Tom Lehman, who is struggling at 1-over-par.

Local favorite and defending champion Francesco Molinari is at 2-under-par midway through his round. Last year, he became the first Italian to win the Italia Open in 26 years.

May 3, 2007

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