Jul 3rd, 2015
Alstom Open de France - Day One
Photography: Getty images
Home favourite Victor Dubuisson, Austrian Bernd Wiesberger, and South African Jaco Van Zyl all shared the clubhouse lead after the opening day of the Alstom Open de France at Le Golf National.
It was a weather affected first day, with play suspended just moments before it was due to get under way, although the initial delay was just 30 minutes.
However, only 42 minutes of play was possible before the threat of lightning again forced players off the course, this time causing a delay of two hours.
That meant 42 of the afternoon starters were unable to complete their rounds before another thunderstorm saw play abandoned for the day, among them defending champion Graeme McDowell, who was one over par with just one hole to play.
Germany's Max Kieffer held the lead on the course at four under par with four holes to play.
After starting from the 10th, Wiesberger carded four birdies in his first 14 holes before dropping his only shot of the day on the par-three eighth by three-putting from long range.
"I played okay," Wiesberger told Sky Sports 4 after carding an opening three-under-par 68. "I was not driving it great early on and was scrambling round. I had a couple of four or five footers for par but the chances I had I took nicely.
"I had just those two hiccups with the three-putt and not getting up and down from beside the ninth green for birdie, but in general, with the conditions being pretty windy, I was quite happy with that."
Wiesberger lost a play-off for the Irish Open at the end of May and has recorded four other top-10 finishes this season in pursuit of a third European Tour title.
"Except for Wentworth where I played terribly, I like the courses where you are challenged a bit more and are not shooting 15, 16 or 17 under par to win," the 29-year-old added.
Dubuisson had been one over par after five holes, but birdied the 18th after his approach cleared the water in front of the green by just a few feet and also picked up shots on the third, fifth and seventh.
The Ryder Cup star, who stamped on his clubs in frustration after a closing 73 in the BMW International on Sunday, almost found water with his tee shot on the ninth but scrambled a par, getting him great applause from the crowd.
"I made a really unlucky bogey on 14 with three good shots and then had the three most difficult holes coming in 15, 16 and 18 but managed to stay calm and make a really good birdie on 18," Dubuisson said.
"It can turn really bad on this course and what I did today was very good. To shoot three under with all this pressure I am very pleased. I feel the pressure and expectation from the crowds because I want to do well for them here more than any other tournament."
Germany's Martin Kaymer, who missed the cut in the defence of his US Open title at Chambers Bay and also made an early exit in Munich, was a shot off the clubhouse lead after three birdies and one bogey in his 69.
Kaymer, who won this event in 2009 and shares the course record of 62, said: "I said to my brother walking off the 18th 'Why can I perform well on this course, which is a lot tougher, and I can't really perform in Munich?"'
McDowell successfully defended a title for the first time in his career 12 months ago and would become the first player since Marcel Dallemagne in 1938 to win the French Open three times in succession with another victory on Sunday.
The former US Open champion would also become just the sixth player to claim a hat-trick of European Tour titles in the same event and battled back from three over par after 10 holes with birdies on the 15th and 17th.