French Open: Anders Hansen shoots 66 to top leaderboard at Le Golf National
Last Updated: 05/07/13 5:45pm
Anders Hansen: Shot a superb 31 on the back nine
Denmark's Anders Hansen shot five-under par to claim a narrow lead after the first round of the French Open.
Le Golf National will host the Ryder Cup in 2018 and its daunting closing stretch saw two of last year's heroes from the 'Miracle at Medinah" - and several other players - posting some unusually high numbers.
Luke Donald started with a birdie on the 10th, his opening hole, and was still one under par when he reached the 18th tee, only to run up a triple-bogey seven on the 470-yard par four after finding a fairway bunker off the tee and then dumping his third shot into the water surrounding the green.
First round leaderboard
(GB & Ire unless stated)
-5 A Hansen (Den)
-4 R Wattel (Fra)
-3 F Aguilar (Chi)
-3 F Zanotti (Par)
-3 S Gallacher
-3 T Bjorn (Den)
-3 M Nixon
-3 E Goya (Arg)
-3 M Kaymer (Ger)
-3 V Dubuisson (Fra)
-3 R Sterne (Rsa)
Click here for collated scores
The former world number one fared better on the front nine with birdies at the eighth and ninth completing a level-par 71, but playing partner Ian Poulter could only get back to two over after an outward half of 40 that was by no means the worst of the day.
Defending champion Marcel Siem covered the same stretch in 44 after an eight on the 13th and an eight on the 18th, the German covering the front nine in 10 fewer shots but still signing for a 78.
Matteo Manassero, the youngest ever winner of the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth in May, had also taken eight on the 18th as he matched Poulter's 73, while former champion Thomas Levet took a quintuple-bogey nine on the 13th in a round of 76.
Hansen made a mockery of those scores by covering the back nine in 31 on his way to a five-under-par 66 that left the two-time PGA Championship winner one shot ahead of France's Romain Wattel.
The 42-year-old has played just 10 events so far this season and will undergo a hand operation on Tuesday that will keep him out of several more, but said: "I'm looking forward to getting that out of the way and being ready for the end of the season.
"I've been struggling for a long time with it and it just came to a point where the cortisone didn't really kick in anymore, and now I need an operation otherwise I just can't keep playing."
As for the course, Hansen added: "It's a great venue for the Ryder Cup, the course is set up perfectly for it. The spectators get such a great view and it's a great finish to the round."
Wattel admitted he was feeling the expectation of the home fans, but added: "You are in front of the French crowds, so you want to be good, you want to play great golf and so there is pressure on me.
"I'm trying to play my best and just focus on the shot I have to play - that's the only thing I can do."
Former champion Martin Kaymer was part of a nine-strong group on three under that included Scotland's Stephen Gallacher, who went out in 30 and was six under with three to play before dropping shots at his last three holes.
Former US Open champion Graeme McDowell, who has missed the cut in five of his last six strokeplay events, was a stroke further back after a 69 while world number five Matt Kuchar returned a 70.