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Coetzee and Fox edge ahead in Paris
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Coetzee and Fox edge ahead in Paris

George Coetzee and Ryan Fox opened up a one shot lead at the top of a congested leaderboard after day one of the Amundi Open de France.

Ryan Fox

South African Coetzee fired his lowest opening round of the season to set the target in the morning with a 65 and Fox matched him in the afternoon as the Kiwi also carded seven birdies and a single bogey to get to six under.

Benjamin Hebert delighted the home fans at Le Golf National with a birdie on the last to sit a shot off the lead alongside American Kurt Kitayama and Scot Richie Ramsay.

Another home favourite in Victor Perez, South African trio Darren Fichardt, Jaco Van Zyl and Justin Walters, Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts, Dane Nicolai Højgaard and Finn Kalle Samooja were at four under, with 49 players under par.

Fox - a two time winner on the European Challenge Tour - claimed his maiden European Tour title earlier this season at the ISPS Handa World Super 6 Perth and is now looking to secure a third trip to the season ending DP World Tour Championship, Dubai.

“I'm pretty happy," he said. "This is a golf course that can kick you pretty quickly. I played really solid today, holed some putts.

"I played those tough holes, that closing stretch, really well. I could have potentially grabbed a couple more on those last four, which is always a bonus, but very happy to walk away with a 65 around here."

Coetzee has four victories on the European Tour and finished runner up earlier this season at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters.

"It was almost perfect," he said. "I played really well. It's nice to be in the mix again. It's been kind of a hard, long year but it feels like the game is coming along nicely."

There was plenty of early jostling at the top of the leaderboard but nobody could get past four under until Coetzee went out in the final group of the morning off the first.

The 33-year-old made a birdie-birdie start and a hat-trick of gains from the sixth saw him jump out of the pack as he turned in 31.

Another gain on the tenth had him two clear of the chasing pack but Ramsay, also a late morning starter, set about reeling him in.

The three time winner gave an opening birdie back on the 12th but then made gains on the 14th, 17th and third.

Coetzee put an approach to tap-in range on the 15th before Ramsay hit a beautiful approach of his own to around ten feet on the seventh, and he was soon just one back as Coetzee dropped his only shot of the day on the 17th.

In the afternoon, Fox turned in 31 with birdies on the first, fifth, sixth, eighth and ninth, and an excellent approach to the 12th had him in a share of the lead.

A bogey on the next saw him slip back but he hit a wonderful tee shot to eight feet on the 16th to get back into a share.

Playing partners Hebert and Kitayama both turned in 34 with three birdies and a bogey and, after Hebert picked up a shot on the tenth, both men hit nice tee shots into the par three 11th for further gains.

Kitayama took advantage of the par five 14th and followed that with an eight footer up the hill for birdie at the 15th in his 66.

Hebert birdied the 16th with an excellent tee shot to four feet but failed to get up and down on the next before holing a long putt for birdie on the last.

Jordan Smith started his round with six birdies and got to seven under at one point but slipped back into a group of 12 players three shots off the lead including two time Major winner and 2009 champion Martin Kaymer.