/ Golf

Anders Hansen stars on tough day in Paris

Updated: Thursday, 04 Jul 2013 22:56 | Comments

Anders Hansen leads the way at the Alstom Open de France
Anders Hansen leads the way at the Alstom Open de France

Denmark's Anders Hansen claimed a narrow lead after the first round of the Alstom Open de France as Ryder Cup fans got a glimpse of the drama which lies in store in five years' time.

Le Golf National will host the biennial contest between Europe and the United States 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.

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.

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