GRAEME STORM is the leading Englishman in the Volvo Golf Champions after a stunning start that leaves him two shots shy of Swedish leader Johan Edfors.

Storm was flawless in his opening round at the Royal Golf Club in Bahrain after shooting a 66, including six birdies, to climb up the leaderboard.

It has been a perfect start for the Hartlepool golfer on the back of his season debut last weekend, when he failed to make the cut at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship.

Now, after suffering frustration after the opening two days on a number of occasions last season, he has to build on promising starts if he is to enjoy better fortunes this season.

Storm, who had trouble with his shoulder last season, said: “It’s a great start for me, very pleasing for me, and I hung in there in the end.

“I missed the cut by one last week which was disappointing.

Nothing has changed too much in the last few days but I have driven more in the fairways.

“I have been in the gym a lot since Abu Dhabi, I am happy with the way things are moving.

I just have to be more patient, which is difficult with me.

‘‘When the EGU (English Golf Union) said you need to get fit I just laughed at them, but I wish I’d listened – I wouldn’t be having the shoulder problem I’ve had because I’d be more flexible.

‘‘The Tour physio guys are probably sick of the sight of me and I’ve only been out for a week.’’ To stand any chance he looks like having to keep up with Edfors, who leads the inaugural championship by two after an eight-under-par opening round of 64.

Storm shares second place with Edfors’ compatriot Peter Hanson, his Ryder Cup teammate Francesco Molinari and Spaniard Pablo Larrazabal.

Sergio Garcia is just one shot further back after a bogey-free start to his season and Paul Casey – the highestranked player in the field at ninth in the world – also shot 67.

Edfors won three times in 2006, but has failed to add to his tally in more than 100 European Tour events since then.

After establishing the record mark for the new Tour venue, he said: “My iron play was really superb and I had a bunch of chances from around 15 feet.”

Ashington’s Kenneth Ferrie is also nicely placed after shooting one under, 71, while North Yorkshire’s John Parry is level par going in to today’s second round.

A week after his disqualification in Abu Dhabi, Padraig Harrington said he ‘‘struggled big time’’ for a 70, while Ian Poulter is in danger of a second successive missed cut following a 72, the same score as course designer Colin Montgomerie.

An inadvertent ball-moving incident spotted by a television viewer led to Harrington’s downfall last week after he had signed for a 65, and the three-time major winner admitted it was on his mind on his return to action.

‘‘Most players are sympathetic to my plight and would like to see the rule changed, but that’s not going to be so easy,’’ Harrington said.

‘‘There have been a few little jokes about it as well, which is nice because at the end of the day it’s not that serious a thing.’’ Casey matched the frontnine 31 by Edfors thanks to a closing eagle, and he stated: ‘‘The 258-yard five-wood was the best swing I made all day.

‘‘There were times when I wasn’t sure I would shoot under par, so it was just a wonderful way to finish.’’ Montgomerie came to grief with a triple-bogey seven at the 408-yard fifth and, with only the top 60 and ties going through to the weekend, he and Poulter will probably have to improve at least two strokes tomorrow to survive.


Collated first round scores in the European Tour Volvo Golf Champions, Royal Golf Club, Kingdom of Bahrain, Bahrain (Gbr & Irl unless stated, par 72):

64 Johan Edfors (Swe)

66 Francesco Molinari (Ita), Peter Hanson (Swe), Graeme Storm, Pablo Larrazabal (Spa)

67 Jeev Milkha Singh (Ind), James Kingston (Rsa), Alexander Noren (Swe), Sergio Garcia (Spa), Paul Casey, Matteo Manassero (Ita), Richard Green (Aus), Alvaro Quiros (Spa)

68 Christian Nilsson (Swe), Steve Webster, Anders Hansen (Den), Scott Strange (Aus), Maarten Lafeber (Ned), Peter Lawrie, Raphael Jacquelin (Fra), Brett Rumford (Aus), Miguel Angel Jimenez (Spa), Paul Lawrie, Alejandro Canizares (Spa), Edoardo Molinari (Ita)

69 Seung-yul Noh (Kor), David Horsey, Andrew Dodt (Aus), Darren Clarke, Thongchai Jaidee (Tha), Paul Broadhurst, Anthony Wall, Robert Karlsson (Swe), Rafael Cabrera Bello (Spa), Mark Foster

70 Robert Jan Derksen (Ned), Soren Kjeldsen (Den), Thomas Aiken (Rsa), Mikko Ilonen (Fin), Todd Hamilton (USA), John Bickerton, Peter Hedblom (Swe), Jose Manuel Lara (Spa), Jose- Maria Olazabal (Spa), Danny Lee (Nzl), Stephen Gallacher, Gregory Bourdy (Fra), Ignacio Garrido (Spa), Bradley Dredge, Padraig Harrington

71 Gary Orr, Soren Hansen (Den), Oliver Wilson, Kenneth Ferrie, Anthony Kang (USA), Markus Brier (Aut)