HAVING held the lead with three holes to play, it was understandable that Stephen Gallacher was a tad disappointed with an opening effort that left him two shots off the pace in the French Open in Paris.
A three-under-par 69 round Le Golf National, though, is still a good day’s work and the Scot knew that after tucking himself in behind Dane Anders Hansen, who leads home hope Romain Wattel, a former Scottish Stroke-Play champion, by a shot.
“I’m a bit disappointed to have finished so poorly,” said Gallacher of his three closing bogeys on the front nine after starting at the tenth. “But I would have taken three-under at the start.”
It was an encouraging display, especially as the Dubai Desert Classic champion needs a good finish this weekend to climb into the top 20 in the Race to Dubai in his bid to secure a spot in The Open.
“I was five-under after seven and played great all day apart from two poor shots at the end,” added Gallacher. “My distance control was brilliant so I’m looking forward to the weekend.”
Marc Warren, also in the hunt for one of those Muirfield berths, opened with a 69, as did Scott Jamieson and Richie Ramsay, the latter showing no ill-effects as he made his competitive return after a five-week absence due to a hip injury.
On the course that will host the 2018 Ryder Cup, two-time PGA champion Hansen made his score by coming home in 31. He finished five shots clear of world No 8 Luke Donald, who ran up a triple-bogey 7 at the 18th – his ninth – but rallied on the back nine.
Former US Open champion Graeme McDowell shot 69, one less than world No 5 Matt Kuchar.