Graeme McDowell one shot off the lead at French Open
Two-time former winner cards 68 to trail Bradley Dredge in Paris
Graeme McDowell plays his second shot on the first hole during the first round of the HNA Open de France at Le Golf National in Paris. Photograph: Warren Little/Getty Images
Graeme McDowell is hoping a third French Open win at Le Golf National can put him back in the frame for September’s Ryder Cup clash against the United States at the Paris course.
The 38-year-old from Portrush claimed the title back-to-back in 2013 and 2014 and opened this year’s tournament with a three-under 68 to sit in a share of second place along with Andy Sullivan after day one, one shot off leader Bradley Dredge.
McDowell carded seven birdies and four bogeys and admitted he was pleased with his first round in testing conditions as strong winds picked up over the day.
“I’m very pleased with the round to be honest with you. It was a round which included seven birdies, a few mistakes and it was a round that could have got away from me in the end,” said McDowell.
“I started to wobble as the wind started to strengthen and the fairways became very, very hard to find. You know the set-up of this course is really tough this week.
“I think this golf course has evolved brilliantly over the last 15 years. I really think they’ve turned this in to a magnificent test of golf, but when you whip a 25 mile an hour wind across it, it becomes like any linksy golf course . The rough is very penal and it becomes difficult to score, but making seven birdies out there is very pleasing.”
McDowell has been named as a vice-captain for Thomas Bjorn’s European team in the autumn but still harbours hopes of having a playing role .
“I think something we have been talking about with Thomas Bjorn is just how comfortable you have to be on some of these tee boxes because it’s an intimidating course at times. And having been here for many years, had a little success here, you know I do stand on some of these tee boxes and feel maybe more comfortable than other guys.
“It’s a great track and I think Thomas will want to see some of his top, top players playing well round here this week. And you know, of course, I’d love to play well and put myself somewhere back on the edge of his radar again.”
Welshman Dredge mastered the conditions, carding just a single bogey to go with five birdies.
Dredge – who lost his European Tour card last season and is looking for a first win since 2006 – recovered from an opening bogey with birdies on the 13th, 14th, 17th, third and fifth to post his score before the higher winds arrived for the later starters.
“It was getting tougher and tougher out there,” said Dredge. “Obviously delighted with that score to start the tournament off.”
Sullivan recorded five birdies and two dropped shots as he looks to continue his fine form that has seen him record four top-10 finishes in his last five events.
Shane Lowry is another who will be looking to impress Bjorn this week and he will start the second round just three shots off the lead after a one-under 70 that included five birdies and four bogeys.
Paul Dunne could only manage a three-over 74 to lie in a share of 59th position after carding four bogeys and just a sole birdie in his first round.
Meanwhile, American Andrew Landry took the early clubhouse lead at the Quicken Loans National in Maryland after a seven-under 63. That was good enough for a one-shot lead over fellow American Billy Horschel.
British and Irish unless stated (par 71)
67 Bradley Dredge
68 Andy Sullivan, Graeme McDowell
69 Robert Karlsson (Swe), Dean Burmester (Rsa), Thomas Pieters (Bel)
70 Chris Wood, James Morrison, Seung-su Han (USA), Julian Suri (USA), Justin Thomas (USA), Jon Rahm (Esp), Shane Lowry, Gregory Havret (Fra)
71 Marcus Kinhult (Swe), Ricardo Gouveia (Prt), Matthew Southgate, Hideto Tanihara (Jpn), Phachara Khongwatmai (Tha), Felipe Aguilar (Chl), Brett Rumford (Aus), Haotong Lie (Chn), Jamie Donaldson, Jordan Smith, Pedro Oriol (Esp), Dylan Frittelli (Rsa), Russell Knox, Matthew Fitzpatrick
72 Richard Bland, Soren Kjeldsen (Den), Charlie Ford, Mikko Ilonen (Fin), Ryan Fox (Nzl), Mikko Korhonen (Fin), Oliver Fisher, Lee Slattery, Andrea Pavan (Ita), Thorbjorn Olesen (Den), Sergio Garcia (Esp), Ian Poulter, Austin Connelly (Can), Justin Walters (Rsa)
73 Alexander Bjork (Swe), Jorge Campillo (Esp), Danny Willett, Josh Geary (Nzl), Wade Ormsby (Aus), Rafael Cabrera-Bello (Esp), Marcus Fraser (Aus), Richie Ramsay, Alex Noren (Swe), Nicolas Colsaerts (Bel), Ashley Chesters, David Drysdale, Sebastien Gros (Fra), Andres Romero (Arg), Sam Brazel (Aus), Alexander Levy (Fra)
74 Matt Wallace, Brandon Stone (Rsa), Scott Jamieson, Adrien Saddier (Fra),
Paul Dunne, Tommy Fleetwood, Nacho Elvira (Esp), Thomas Detry (Bel), Adrian Otaegui (Esp), Edoardo Molinari (Ita), Matthew Nixon, David Howell, George Coetzee (Rsa), Matthias Schwab (Aut), Alvaro Quiros (Esp), Stephen Gallacher, Fabrizio Zanotti (Pry), Tyrrell Hatton, Mark Foster, Richard Sterne (Rsa), Jens Dantorp (Swe)
75 SSP Chawrasia (Ind), Maximilian Kieffer (Ger), Matteo Manassero (Ita), David Horsey, Henric Sturehed (Swe), Raphael Jacquelin (Fra), Pablo Larrazabal (Esp), Peter Hanson (Swe), Laurie Canter, Scott Hend (Aus), Connor Syme, Yusaku Miyazato (Jpn), Julien Quesne (Fra)
76 Lucas Bjerregaard (Den), Daniel Imn (USA), Matthew Baldwin, Romain Langasque (Fra), Darren Fichardt (Rsa), Thongchai Jaidee (Tha), Jacques Kruyswijk (Rsa), Shubhankar Sharma (Ind), Trevor Immelman (Rsa), Romain Wattel (Fra), Jeunghun Wang (Kor), Lorenzo Gagli (Ita), Gavin Green (Mys), Nino Bertasio (Ita)
77 Steven Brown, Nico Geyger (Chl), Lasse Jensen (Den), Martin Kaymer (Ger), Renato Paratore (Ita), Robert Rock, Jeff Winther (Den), David Lipsky (USA), Erik Van Rooyen (Rsa), Benjamin Hebert (Fra), Lee Westwood, Mike Lorenzo-Vera (Fra), Zander Lombard (Rsa), Chris Paisley, Jason Norris (Aus), Marcel Siem (Ger), Victor Perez (Fra)
78 Sam Horsfield, Rak hyun Cho (Kor), Clement Sordet (Fra)
79 Christofer Blomstrand (Swe), Ross Fisher, Daniel Brooks, Ashun Wu (Chn), Joakim Lagergren (Swe), Scott Fernandez (Esp), Bradley Neil, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano (Esp), Marc Warren, Chris Hanson, Oliver Farr, Soomin Lee (Kor)
80 Jason Scrivener (Aus), Thomas Aiken (Rsa), Paul Waring, Ryan Evans, Christiaan Bezuidenhout (Rsa), Gregory Bourdy (Fra), Carlos Pigem (Esp), Aaron Rai
81 Chase Koepka (USA), Haydn Porteous (Rsa), Thomas Bjorn (Den), Callum Shinkwin, Andrew Dodt (Aus), Julien Guerrier (Fra), Jin-ho Choi (Kor)
82 Andrew Johnston, Tapio Pulkkanen (Fin)
83 Robin Sciot-Siegrist (Fra)
84 Adam Bland (Aus)
85 Jose-Maria Olazabal (Esp), Matthieu Pavon (Fra)