Kaymer leads in France

Blistering heat and a blistered foot served only to bring out the best in young German star Martin Kaymer in Paris on Thursday.

Blistering heat and a blistered foot served only to bring out the best in young German star Martin Kaymer in Paris on Thursday.
The 24-year-old began the French Open Alstom with a course record-equalling 62 at Le Golf National – 10 better than Padraig Harrington, who now has a fight on his hands to avoid a fifth successive missed cut just two weeks before his bid for an Open hat-trick at Turnberry.
So bad was Kaymer’s right foot that as well as being seen by a doctor he had a hole cut in his golf shoe to allow him to play Wednesday’s pro-am.
With the help of his three partners he won that by four with an amazing 16 under par best-ball of 55, but to be only seven worse than that on his own underlined what a massive talent he is.
“I’ve been missing a lot of short putts, but everything came together – and I hope it continues,” he said after taking a three-stroke lead over England’s 2006 winner John Bickerton, Thai Thongchai Jaidee, Australian Scott Strange, Swede Peter Hanson and Argentina’s Rafa Echenique, the man who was second to Nick Dougherty in Munich on Sunday after a closing albatross.
“The foot’s still hurting, but I will survive,” added Kaymer. “Yesterday when I was practising it was unbelievable pain, but now I don’t worry about it.”
Kaymer’s round actually began with a bogey, but after five birdies in the next nine holes he chipped in for eagle at the long third and finished with three more birdies for an inward 30.
Bickerton, 40 later this year, said: “I’ve not been playing well, but these things happen in golf and you have to try and kick on and improve.
“I’ve changed a few things in my set-up. I was getting very crouched and very lazy and hadn’t even noticed myself, so it was important to address those issues.”
Harrington was paired with Ian Poulter, runner-up to him at Royal Birkdale last summer and to Swede Henrik Stenson in May’s Players Championship in Florida, but they both finished down the field on one over.
Both looked on the bright side afterwards, however.
“Three three-putts (including two in the first three holes) really hurt badly, but I was encouraged by the way I played – very encouraged,” stated Harrington, who apart from his recent dismal run has not had a top-10 finish since January.
Poulter, in Europe for the first time this year, went in the water twice for a triple bogey seven on the 18th, his ninth, and had angry words with a photographer walking off the tee there.
But he said: “Take that hole out of it that was not disastrous. After I pulled the drive into the lake I dropped the ball in a smelly lie, but overall I played lovely.”
Dougherty followed up his win with a 66 and Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie, without a top-10 finish since he was runner-up in this event last year, returned a 69, but major winners Jose Maria Olazabal, Angel Cabrera and John Daly all fared worse than Harrington.
Daly was already eight over when he quit with a bad back on the 17th, Olazabal had a 74 and the 75 of current Masters champion Cabrera meant he even finished five behind his 20-year-old son Federico.
The youngster was even on the leaderboard early in the day at three under, but then matched Poulter’s seven on the last.
Miguel Angel Jimenez, whose 500th European Tour event began with a hook into the water, hit back for a 67 and fellow Spaniard Pablo Larrazabal, the defending champion, matched that with five birdies in the last six holes – after a triple bogey eight on the ninth.

Collated first round scores in the European Tour Open de France ALSTOM, Le Golf National, Paris, France
(Gbr & Irl unless stated, par 71):

62 Martin Kaymer (Ger)
65 Peter Hanson (Swe), Scott Strange (Aus), Rafael Echenique (Arg), John Bickerton, Thongchai Jaidee (Tha)
66 Paul Waring, Nick Dougherty
67 Robert Jan Derksen (Ned), Francesco Molinari (Ita), Jean Van de Velde (Fra), Pablo Larrazabal (Spa), Ricardo Gonzalez (Arg), David Drysdale, Miguel Angel Jimenez (Spa), Paul Lawrie, Alejandro Canizares (Spa), Sam Little, Thomas Levet (Fra)
68 Jeev Milkha Singh (Ind), Charl Schwartzel (Rsa), Soren Hansen (Den), Benn Barham, Danny Willett, Mads Vibe-Hastrup (Den), Gary Lockerbie, Alexander Noren (Swe), Marc Warren, Richard Green (Aus), Marcus Fraser (Aus), Lee Westwood
69 Alvaro Velasco (Spa), Anders Hansen (Den), Graeme Storm, Shane Lowry, Steve Webster, Magnus A Carlsson (Swe), Colin Montgomerie, Gareth Maybin, David Lynn, Shiv Shankar Prasad Chowrasia (Ind), Jamie Donaldson, Phillip Archer, Gregory Bourdy (Fra), Mark Foster, Cedric Menut (Fra), Ross McGowan
70 Soren Kjeldsen (Den), Damien McGrane, Federico Cabrera (Arg), Mikko Ilonen (Fin), Kenneth Ferrie, Jose Manuel Lara (Spa), Simon Wakefield, Robert Rock, Alessandro Tadini (Ita), Stephen Dodd, Thomas Bjorn (Den), Chapchai Nirat (Tha), Gonzalo Fdez-Castano (Spa), Seve Benson, Brett Rumford (Aus), Taco Remkes (Ned), Jean-Francois Lucquin (Fra), Richard Sterne (Rsa), Barry Lane
71 James Kingston (Rsa), Peter Lawrie, Steven O’Hara, Oliver Fisher, Felipe Aguilar (Chi), Niclas Fasth (Swe), Michael Jonzon (Swe), Pablo Martin (Spa), Rafael Cabrera Bello (Spa), Miles Tunnicliff, Michael Hoey, Jean-Baptiste Gonnet (Fra), Richie Ramsay, Jarmo Sandelin (Swe), Scott Arnold (Hkg), Simon Khan, Marco Ruiz (Par), Philip Golding
72 Oliver Wilson, Anthony Snobeck (Fra), Raul Quiros (Spa), Alastair Forsyth, Wade Ormsby (Aus), Shiv Kapur (Ind), Graeme McDowell, David Horsey, Scott Drummond, Andrew McLardy (Rsa), Alvaro Quiros (Spa), Raphael Jacquelin (Fra), Daniel Vancsik (Arg), Miguel Angel Martin (Spa), Richard Finch, Ian Poulter, Tano Goya (Arg), Paul McGinley, Padraig Harrington
73 Michael Lorenzo-Vera (Fra), Gary Orr, Peter Hedblom (Swe), Paul Nilbrink (Swe), Darren Clarke, Simon Dyson, Paul Broadhurst, Anthony Wall, Lee Slattery, Markus Brier (Aut), Peter O’Malley (Aus), Bradley Dredge
74 Hennie Otto (Rsa), Daniel Brooks, David Howell, Robert Dinwiddie, Phillip Price, Louis Oosthuizen (Rsa), Jose-Filipe Lima (Por), Jose-Maria Olazabal (Spa), Gary Murphy, Stephen Gallacher, David Dixon, Jean-Francois Remesy (Fra), Ignacio Garrido (Spa), Malcolm MacKenzie
75 Michael Campbell (Nzl), Damien Perrier (Fra), Francois Delamontagne (Fra), Maarten Lafeber (Ned), Angel Cabrera (Arg), Julien Guerrier (Fra), Fabrizio Zanotti (Par), Eduardo Romero (Arg)
76 Mikael Lundberg (Swe), Per-Ulrik Johansson (Swe), David Frost (Rsa), Jyoti Randhawa (Ind)
77 Anton Haig (Rsa), Jeppe Huldahl (Den), Rhys Davies, Emanuele Canonica (Ita), Gregory Havret (Fra)
78 Anthony Kang (USA), Benoit Teilleria (Fra), Pelle Edberg (Swe), Alex Larrazabal (Spa)
79 Nicolas Joakimides (Fra), Mark Brown (Nzl)
80 Martin Erlandsson (Swe)
81 Marcus Higley, Marcel Siem (Ger)
RTD: John Daly (USA)