Former Walker Cup player Stephen Dodd bounced back from a torrid start to the season to shoot a six under par 65 to take the lead after the first round of the Novotel Perrier Open de France at Golf du Medoc.
The Welshman has an outstanding amateur record, playing in the victorious Great Britain and Ireland Walker Cup team in 1989, the year he won the British Amateur Championship at Royal Birkdale. He earned his card for the European Tour this season by finishing tenth in the Qualifying School finals last year but missed the first eight cuts of the season. He finished joint 59th last week in Italy and now leads by a single shot from a group of five players.
"It was nice to play well and hole a few putts," he said. "I played well in Italy but didn't putt well. Today I played like I did last week and holed some putts. I had thought about the missed cuts, I'd be lying if I said I hadn't, but didn't let it get to me. I just got on with it and hopefully today put it behind me."
Dodd leads by one from England's Andrew Sherborne and Darren Lee, American Bob May, Ireland's Eamonn Darcy and the local hero, Jeff Remesy, winner of the Estoril Open last month.
Sherborne is another player who has been out of sorts with his game in the early part of the season but hit back with eight birdies and three bogeys today. "I holed three long putts for the first time since I don't know when," he said.
Lee, who earned his right to play on the regular Tour by claiming the last card from the Challenge Tour by finishing 15th started by holing a 42 foot eagle putt on the tenth green, his first. Four birdies and a bogey later he posted a 66 to lie a shot of the pace.
Bob May, with six top-ten finishes in nine starts this season, is well placed to mount a strong challenge this week while Darcy found his form on the greens after changing to a 'Teardrop' putter this week after abandoning the broom-handle putter he adopt
ed for the Estoril Open.