Dredge ahead as McDowell finds form at Le Golf National again
Former champion Graeme McDowell once again impressed at Le Golf National, firing a 68 to sit one shot behind leader Bradley Dredge after the first round of the Open de France.
A two-time winner of the tournament, Europe vice-captain McDowell overcame windy conditions to suggest he could still yet be a playing member of Thomas Bjorn’s team when the Ryder Cup is staged at the venue in September.
McDowell birdied his last hole – the ninth – to move to three under, putting him alongside Englishman Andy Sullivan in a tie for second place.
"You stand on the tee-boxes and all you can see is high rough and you have to be comfortable about where you're positioning the ball off these tees," McDowell told the European Tour website.
"Having been coming here for years and having some success here, I do stand on some of these tee-boxes and feel a level of comfort."
Robert Karlsson, another of captain Bjorn's assistants, is also in a solid position after 18 holes, the Swede sitting on two under alongside Dean Burmester and Thomas Pieters.
Yet Dredge is the man to catch, the Welshman dropping just one shot as he capitalised on an early start during a day that saw only 14 players break par.
"It was getting tougher and tougher out there," Dredge – whose last tournament victory came back in 2006 – told the European Tour website. "I'm obviously delighted with that score to start the tournament off.
"I think it's playing just right at the moment in terms of firmness. There's just a bit of give on the fairways and the greens."
Jon Rahm is one of eight players to sit on one under, the same score as Shane Lowry and world number two Justin Thomas, a certain member of the United States' team at the Ryder Cup.
Ian Poulter overcame a pair of double bogeys to card a 72, while Sergio Garcia also sits on one over par.
Defending champion Tommy Fleetwood is further adrift on three over after managing just one birdie in a score of 74, leaving him languishing seven shots off the pace.