Kevin Stadler leads Open de France as home favourite Victor Dubuisson struggles badly
Last Updated: 03/07/14 9:17pm
Kevin Stadler set the early pace at the Open de France, the American firing a blemish-free 64 to lead by one shot at Le Golf National.
First round leaderboard
(GB and Ire unless stated)
-7 K Stadler (US)
-6 M Siem (Ger)
-5 S Gallacher
-4 J Donaldson
-4 F Aguilar (Chl)
Stadler managed three birdies on his front nine before catching fire after the turn, picking up a further four shots in the next five holes to storm out to seven under par.
He birdied both 10 and 11, where he sunk a tricky putt down the hill that ran left to right into the cup, and 12, then after a par at the next, he splashed out of a bunker impressively to get a four at the par-five 14th.
Although the 34-year-old cooled off after that, no other player was able to match his score at a future Ryder Cup venue that he described afterwards as “spectacular”.
"It's one of my best rounds of the year for sure," said Stadler, who won his maiden PGA Tour title at the Phoenix Open in February.
I have always wanted to come over here, the guys in the US tell me it's one of the best events of the year and it has not let me down. It has been fantastic.
"To not make a bogey out there is something I didn't think was possible when I first played it. It's instantly one of my favourite courses ever, I thought it was spectacular from hole one to the end. They talk about the last four holes but they are doing a discredit to the previous 14.
"I have always wanted to come over here, the guys in the US tell me it's one of the best events of the year and it has not let me down. It has been fantastic."
Marcel Siem sits alone in second place on six under, the German storming home with a hat-trick of birdies from the sixth onwards having started his day from the 10th tee, with Stephen Gallacher a further shot back.
The course record of 62 looked under threat when the Scotsman covered his first 14 holes in seven under par and then hit a superb approach to five feet on the sixth green.
However, the world No 37 missed that birdie opportunity and then dropped shots on the seventh and ninth, after missing the green with his approach each time, to drop one shot behind 2012 winner Siem.
"I missed a putt to go eight under and didn't do too much wrong on the last couple of holes, but that's what this course can do. I'll still take two better than my best," Gallacher said after signing for his 66.
Welshman Jamie Donaldson and Felipe Aguilar of Chile are tied together on four under, while Roope Kakko of Finland, Italian Matteo Manassero and Frenchman Victor Riu are a further stroke back.
While Riu impressed on home soil the opening round wasn’t so kind to another French favourite – Victor Dubuisson finds himself unlikely to even make the cut after a 76 that began with a triple-bogey seven at the first.
There was better news for one of Dubuisson's playing partner, Graeme McDowell. The defending champion signed for a round of 70 to leave himself on one under. The Northern Irishman suffered a mid-round wobble with back-to-back bogeys, with his dropped shot at 14 coming after he struck a spectator.
"It wasn't the best header in the world - it went in the wrong direction!" McDowell told Sky Sports.
"Thankfully he (the spectator) was okay. It was a bad break for me, but a worse break for him. Apologies to him."
As for summarising his efforts, he added: "I felt like I controlled the ball well most of the day. I left a few on the greens during the first 12 holes, then things kind of got a little ugly for a couple of holes."
Martin Kaymer was also in the same group, with this year's US Open champion ending up on one over.