Gavin Moynihan enjoys strong finish to lie three off the lead in Paris

George Coetzee and Ryan Fox lead the way after opening with six-under 65s

Three birdies in his closing five holes helped Ireland’s Gavin Moynihan to skip up the leaderboard in the first round of the French Open at Le Golf National in Paris on Thursday.

The 25-year-old was level par after 13 holes before gains on the fifth, sixth and eighth holes helped him finish with a three-under 68 and a share of 13th position.

South Africa's George Coetzee and New Zealander Ryan Fox carded six-under-par 65s to share the lead as the European Tour returned to Le Golf National in Paris a year after the course hosted the Ryder Cup.

Making the most of good scoring conditions in the morning, Coetzee started with two birdies and picked up three more shots from the sixth hole to surge ahead as he reached the turn in 31.

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The 33-year-old sank two more birdies on the back nine before dropping his only shot on the penultimate green.

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

“It was almost perfect,” said Coetzee, who finished with his best opening round score of the year.

“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.”

Fox, son of former All Blacks outhalf Grant, carded four birdies in five holes on the front nine, and after offsetting a birdie on the 12th with his only bogey at the next, produced another solid putt to pick up a stroke on the 16th.

The World Super 6 champion had a great chance of taking the lead on his own but missed his birdie putt from eight feet on the final green.

“I played really solid today. This is a golf course that can kick you pretty quickly,” Fox said.

“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.”

Home favourite Benjamin Herbert finished with a birdie on the last to sign for an impressive 66 and sit one shot off the lead alongside American Kurt Kitayama and Scot Richie Ramsay.

Paul Dunne never recovered from dropping five shots in two holes on his front nine after he followed a triple-bogey on the 15th with a double on 16th as he finished with a six-over 77.

LEADERBOARD
Britain and Ireland unless stated, par 71:

65 Ryan Fox (Nzl), George Coetzee (Rsa)

66 Kurt Kitayama (USA), Richie Ramsay, Benjamin Hebert (Fra)

67 Kalle Samooja (Fin), Victor Perez (Fra), Nicolas Colsaerts (Bel), Jaco Van Zyl (Rsa), Justin Walters (Rsa), Nicolai Hojgaard (Den), Darren Fichardt (Rsa)

68 Hugo Leon (Chi), Kristoffer Reitan (Nor), Brandon Stone (Rsa), Martin Kaymer (Ger), Chris Paisley, Romain Langasque (Fra), Matthias Schwab (Aut), Joachim B. Hansen (Den), Gavin Moynihan, Liam Johnston, Deyen Lawson (Aus), Jordan Smith

69 Marcus Kinhult (Swe), Joost Luiten (Ned), Richard McEvoy, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano (Esp), Renato Paratore (Ita), Victor Dubuisson (Fra), Jason Scrivener (Aus), Jerome Lando Casanova (Fra), Alexander Levy (Fra), Bradley Dredge

70 SSP Chawrasia (Ind), David Horsey, Callum Shinkwin, Ashun Wu (Chn), Ashley Chesters, Stewart Cink (USA), Charlie Saxon (USA), Oliver Fisher, Andy Sullivan, Stephen Gallacher, Sam Horsfield, Pedro Figueiredo (Por), Gregory Bourdy (Fra), Erik Van Rooyen (Rsa), Edoardo Molinari (Ita), Julien Quesne (Fra)

71 Ben Evans, Ricardo Gouveia (Por), David Law, Steven Brown, Espen Kofstad (Nor), James Morrison, Lee Slattery, Lucas Herbert (Aus), Julian Suri (USA), Marc Warren, David Lipsky (USA), Jamie Donaldson, Charles Larcelet (a) (Fra), Lorenzo Gagli (Ita), Thomas Detry (Bel)

72 Joel Stalter (Fra), Alex Noren (Swe), Oliver Wilson, Haydn Porteous (Rsa), Clement Sordet (Fra), Nick Cullen (Aus), Jacques Kruyswijk (Rsa), Aaron Rai, Shubhankar Sharma (Ind), Max Schmitt (Ger), Cyril Bouniol (Fra), Romain Wattel (Fra), Yusaku Miyazato (Jpn), Frederic Lacroix (Fra)

73 Chris Wood, Niklas Lemke (Swe), Matthieu Pavon (Fra), Daniel Gavins, Adrien Saddier (Fra), Trevor Immelman (Rsa), Jake McLeod (Aus), Adrian Otaegui (Esp), Sam Brazel (Aus), Gavin Green (Mal), Jeong weon Ko (Fra), Jens Dantorp (Swe)

74 Hudson Swafford (USA), Maximilian Kieffer (Ger), David Howell, Scott Jamieson, Raphael Jacquelin (Fra), Jeunghun Wang (Kor), Louis De Jager (Rsa), Thomas Pieters (Bel)

75 Hyo-won Park (Kor), Sebastian Soderberg (Swe), Gaganjeet Bhullar (Ind), Alejandro Canizares (Esp), Jack Singh Brar, Nacho Elvira (Esp)

76 Robert Karlsson (Swe), Soren Kjeldsen (Den), David Ravetto (Fra), Tapio Pulkkanen (Fin), Ross Fisher, Thomas Bjorn (Den), Stuart Manley, Bernd Ritthammer (Ger), Hideto Tanihara (Jpn)

77 Jose-Maria Olazabal (Esp), Anton Karlsson (Swe), Paul Dunne

78 Per Langfors (Swe), Guido Migliozzi (Esp)