Local hero Franck Aumonier shot an opening 66, seven under par, to take the lead after the first round of the Aa4th Open de Saint Omer, two shots ahead of fellow Frenchman and Challenge Tour regular Nicolas Joakimides.
Aumonier’s 66 flies in the face of his form on the 1999 Challenge Tour when he played 10 events and earned an average £40 each time. Seven birdies in nine holes yesterday underlined a sudden and dramatic
improvement in the Frenchman's play. But with storms forecast to hit the later tee times tomorrow
he faces a difficult task in this £100,000 event tri-sanctioned between the Mastercard Tour, French Tour
Challenge Tour event.
Graham Rankin was a further shot off the pace after a round of four under par 69. The burly, former Walker Cup star who only turned pro last year a few months short of his 34th birthday headed the British challenge on this hilly, difficult course half-an-hour inland from Calais.
Yet despite securing a place in the top six on the leaderboard Rankin was disgruntled with the way he putted on greens that turned from medium to fast after a windblown and sunny day. "I'm trying to be too cute, reading things into putts that aren't there. As an amateur I used to just step up and hit the thing into the hole but now I'm a pro I'm being too careful. From tomorrow my aim is to be professional from tee to green and then go back to being an amateur putter, " he said.