Iain Pyman carded a course record 62 to open a four-stroke lead on an extraordinary first day of the BMW Russian Open in Moscow. But most of the talk was about David Salisbury scooping a US$100,000 hole-in-one prize.
Salisbury, 27 year old Englishman, hit the jackpot almost before the tournament had got into full swing when he sank his six iron tee shot at the 178 yard fourth hole to pick up his biggest ever prize.
He eventually signed for a two-under-par 70 and even if he misses the cut he will go home with a prize three times bigger than the winner will collect on Sunday.
"I didn't even know there was a prize available on that hole," said Salisbury, playing on an invitation. "It was the only good shot I hit all day but it was perfect and it covered the flag all the way. It pitched just short of the hole and just rolled it.
"It is my first ace in competition and I've never won more than a couple of thousand pounds before."
Salisbury, from Benfleet in Essex, was on a high when he teed off on the long fifth and birdied that. He added two more birdies but a bogey at the 18th prevented him from finishing sub-70.
A few hours later, Adam Crawford from Australia, holed his five iron tee shot at the 194-yard 16th but went away empty handed. "It's my sixth in competition, my fourth as a pro, and they haven't won me anything," he said after signing for 69.
Pyman, who won this tournament three years ago, went out in 30 with six birdies, four in a row from the sixth. The 29-year-old Yorkshireman added two further birdies at the 11th and 12th to get to eight under, while the course record 63, set by Swiss Andre Bossert in last year's tournament, was under threat.
Pyman matched it with a birdie-four at the 15th, then covered the long 17th in four strokes to sign for 62.
"I shot a record 61 in the PGA of Austria Masters last year, which was also ten under," said Pyman. “I hit a lot of shots close but the difference was that a lot of 15 foot putts went in. I only missed two greens on the back nine and got up-and-down each time.
"I don't know what it is about the Moscow Country Club but this is a great course. I also have a lot of friends here this week and I'm feeling relaxed."
When told that no one has won the Russian title twice, Pyman replied: "Then I'll have to see what I can do."
He is four strokes clear of Kent's Benn Barham, who was out in the morning from the tenth tee and set the target with six birdies.
Four players share third place on 67, Peter Lawrie from Ireland, England’s Jamie Little, and the South African duo of Titch Moore and Bradford Vaughan.
Perfect conditions meant perfect scoring with 66 players finishing under par. But Lee James, leader of the Ranking after three victories this year, is not among them. He returned level par 72 and admitted: “I just couldn’t get motivated.”
But that didn’t apply to Pyman or Salisbury, who will sleep easy tonight.