South African Tjaart van der Walt took advantage of an early start to secure the lead after the opening day of the St Omer Open in northern France.

The 38-year-old, starting on the back nine, carded a four-under-par 67 to lead by one shot from Frenchman Victor Rui.

Pretoria-born van der Walt, who has yet to win an event in 14 years as a tour professional, carded five birdies in windy conditions with his only dropped shot coming at the 417-yard third.

Rui, also starting on the back nine, leapt into contention thanks to a birdie-birdie-eagle finish after just one birdie and two bogeys in his first 15 holes.

Coming home strongly was also important for Londoner Daniel Brooks, who looked to be struggling after a triple-bogey eight at the 541-yard 14th left him four over after five holes.

However, two birdies reduced some of the damage before eagles at the two par-fives in the last three holes took him to two under and third place in the clubhouse.

The opposite was true for Yorkshireman Simon Dyson, who was well-placed at two under with five holes to go only to record three bogeys and drop to one over.

Of the Irish involved Simon Thornton is three over, Gareth Shaw five over with David Higgins on seven over.

While van der Walt felt his accuracy off the tee gave him an advantage it was his form on the greens which made the difference on the opening day.

"I drive straight so I can take the driver more than a lot of guys and if you can shape it with the wind you'll get an extra 20 or 30 yards out of the tee shot, which helps," he told

"I managed the ball really well: I have been doing that well the last few weeks but the putting hasn't been great. I holed a few putts, which was good."