Anders Hansen defied a hand injury and testing conditions at Le Golf National to take a one shot lead after the opening round of the Alstom Open de France.
The 42 year old Dane, who will undergo surgery in Zurich next week to try and overcome the long-standing hand problem, birdied his final hole for a five under par 66.
Hansen used all his experience to card seven birdies and only two bogeys as the venue on the outskirts of Paris gave glimpses of the excitement in store when the 2018 Ryder Cup is held at the venue.
Plenty of players found water on the demanding closing stretch, although Hansen’s only bogeys came at the first and eighth - the latter after leaving his chip ten feet short of the hole.
Those dropped shots sandwiched birdies from eight feet at the fifth and 30 feet on the sixth, after the three-time European Tour winner had gone out in 31.
“I'm telling you, it's a great venue for The Ryder Cup,” Hansen enthused. “The course is set up perfect for it. The spectators get such a good view and it's such a great finish to the round - I think it's going to be a great venue.
“It is a tough course - the greens are pretty firm and it's tight out there. There's hardly any wind, and you see the scores aren't that great.
“I played actually really solid from tee to green - I think I only missed two or three greens. I putted quite well, so just sort of all came together. At some stage it seemed a bit easy, but this course gets your attention and next thing you know, you're making bogeys.”
Speaking about his hand Hansen, who won the last of his three European Tour titles more than four years ago in South Africa, added: “I'm having my operation on Tuesday, so I'm looking forward to get that out of the way and hopefully be ready for the end of the season. It's not far away, so I'm looking forward to get that done.
“I've had it for years and years and years - they are going in three different places and they are going to remove a cyst I have here and clean this up and hopefully there's a 50/50 chance it's going to be okay. The other thing is to take the whole bone out and cut it a bit, but that's a big operation and I would be out for six months, so we are hoping to do that and it's going to be good enough. It’s just wear and tear from hitting too many golf balls.”
Home favourite Romain Wattel finished the day second on four under, one shot ahead of a group containing 2009 winner Martin Kaymer.
The 22 year old Wattel was able to limit the damage done by bogeys at the 15th and 16th with six birdies - a couple of them the result of monster putts.
“You are in front of the French crowds, so you want to be good, you want to play great golf and so there is pressure on me,” said Wattel, who has already impressed this season with a third-place finish in Austria and fourth in Korea.
“I'm trying to play my best and just focus on the shot I have to play - that's the only thing I can do.”
Former US PGA Champion Kaymer was part of a nine-strong group on three under that included Scotland's Stephen Gallacher, who went out in 30 and was six under with three to play before dropping shots at his last three holes.
Former US Open Champion Graeme McDowell, who has missed the cut in five of his last six strokeplay events, was a stroke further back after a 69 while World Number Five Matt Kuchar returned a 70.
Le Golf National will host the biennial contest between Europe and the United States in 2018 and its daunting closing stretch saw two of last year's heroes from the 'Miracle at Medinah" - and several other players - posting some unusually high numbers.
Luke Donald started with a birdie on the tenth, his opening hole, and was still one under par when he reached the 18th tee, only to run up a triple-bogey seven on the 470 yard par four after finding a fairway bunker off the tee and then dumping his third shot into the water surrounding the green.
The former World Number One fared better on the front nine with birdies at the eighth and ninth completing a level par 71, but playing partner Ian Poulter could only get back to two over after an outward half of 40.
Defending champion Marcel Siem covered the same stretch in 44 after an eight on the 13th and an eight on the 18th, the German covering the front nine in ten fewer shots but still signing for a 78.