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Thursday, 30 June 2011
 Richard Green   (Getty Images)
Richard Green (Getty Images)
Richard Green and Graeme Storm ended day one of the Alstom Open de France at the top of the leaderboard after a late stumble from in-form South African George Coetzee.

Green and Storm each compiled impressive six under par rounds of 65 at Le Golf National, but looked set to be overhauled when Coetzee, who finished third at last week’s BMW International Open, reached seven under with four holes remaining.

However, the 24 year old found the water at the difficult par four 15th and, after making bogey there, dropped another shot at 17 to drop back into a tie for third with Thorbjørn Olesen and James Morrison.

Green, who has yet to register a top ten finish this season, picked up shots at the third and fourth before carding five birdies in six holes from the ninth to move to seven under.

A bogey at the par four 17th took a little gloss off the left-handed Australian’s round, but he remained understandably satisfied with his performance.

“I’ve been working hard on my driving lately and putting especially, and it all seems to be coming to nicely,” said Green.

“I played pretty solid golf last week in Germany and it's come through this week here, as well.

“I like the layout of the golf course very much, I like the way it plays bouncy. I tend to sort of mentally like difficult golf holes, and I think I focus a little bit harder for that very reason.

“Six under par for me today is a great score, and I'm very happy with the position I'm in. It's given me a lot of confidence to go into the rest of the week.”

Storm, who won this tournament in 2007, reached the turn in 34 courtesy of birdies at the third and fifth and made up a further four shots on the back nine.

He said: “There’s always added pressure when you come back because people say, ‘You won on one of the toughest courses in Europe and you obviously like it around that course.’

“I do, without a doubt, but you’ve still got to put the work in and do all the preparation.

“It’s just another week, it’s another tournament and you’ve got to treat it like that, but don’t get me wrong, it’s fantastic to always come back and know that you’ve won around here.”

Coetzee was pleased to continue where he left off in Munich.

“I think last week's third place kind of took a lot of pressure off me,” he explained. “I finally secured my card and for everybody who comes out of Q School, that's their first goal.

“Focusing on that goal kind of took away a couple of events from me and made me make a couple more mistakes. But now that's out of the way, I can start focusing on other goals and try and win some tournaments.”

Olesen birdied his final two holes, the eighth and ninth, to get within a shot of the leaders and the Dane was soon joined by Morrison, who recorded six birdies and a solitary bogey in his 66.

“It's been a struggle the last few weeks but I've been playing well but not really holing the putts,” said Morrison.

“Today, there was nothing different, just a few more putts went in and I went from there really.”

A host of players, including Matteo Manassero, Jeppe Huldahl, Thongchai Jaidee and English rookie Matthew Nixon, carded 68s to lie three shots off the lead.

Last year’s Ryder Cup Captain Colin Montgomerie - runner-up three years ago and looking for a top five finish to secure a place in The Open Championship - was going well at two under, but then bogeyed two of his last three for a 71.

World Number Four Martin Kaymer, another former winner at Le Golf National, also went round in level par, while American Ryder Cup player Bubba Watson double bogeyed the last to slip to three over on his first appearance in a regular European Tour event.

Damien McGrane, Rikard Karlberg, Jaco Van Zyl and James Ruebotham were all disqualified due to a serious breach of the water hazard rules on hole 18, taking a drop from the wrong place.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1LEVET, ThomasFRA18-7
T2OLESEN, ThorbjørnDEN18-6
T2FOSTER, MarkENG18-6
4KAYMER, MartinGER18-4
T5KHAN, SimonENG18-3
T5RAMSAY, RichieSCO18-3
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