Backstrom leads in Italy

Beanpole Swede Joakim Backstrom scorched to a course record 62 to lead the Italian Open in Milan.

The 6ft 5in giant racked up two eagles and six birdies to lead by a shot on 10 under from Austria's Markus Brier and by two from Japan’s Taichi Teshima.

But Backstrom, 29, revealed how he is lucky to be playing at all after suffering a series of agonising back problems.

He explained: "I grew almost a foot when I was younger and my muscles didn't grow with it.

"Everything fell apart really and when it's bad my back becomes extremely tired and the muscles just become like spaghetti."

Winner of the Aa St Omer Open two years ago, Backstrom sandwiched six birdies between eagle threes at the first and 15th.

He added: "Pretty much everything was good today. My irons and putting were very good and my driving was okay, I had no real big misses and that helped give me chances."

In-form Brier birdied six of the last seven holes but there were plenty of fireworks from Ireland's Peter Lawrie and David Higgins as they compiled contrasting rounds.

Higgins ran up a quadruple bogey eight at the second hole but showed his fighting qualities when he battled back with five birdies to finish alongside Gary Murphy with a brilliant one under par 71.

But that was still only good enough for a share of 70th place as 52 players broke 70 at Castello di Tolcinasco near Milan.

Dubliner Lawrie leads the Irish challenge after a solid four under par 68 that featured just one bogey.

Lawrie said: "It's always nice to get off to a good start and 68 was a good score.

"It could have been a bit lower but at least I was consistent and that is what has been missing from my game.

"I hit 16 greens in regulation and that is always a good start in any tournament. I was surprised that the course was so dry today, given the amount of rain we had yesterday."

Last year's beaten Ryder Cup captain Lehman holed a seven iron for an eagle at the 13th but bogeyed the last for a 70 that left him struggling to make the cut.

But he wasn't the only Ryder Cup man disappointed with his finish as Paul McGinley also bogeyed his final hole to card a massively disappointing 72.