Building on the unexpected momentum provided by the success of last week’s Irish Open, the European Tour has decamped to mainland Europe this week for the Alstrom Open de France.
The long, humiliating odyssey of defending champion Thomas Levet has dominated pre-tournament coverage, but the home favourite, who fractured his right leg during a photocall at the conclusion of last year’s event (see below), looks set to play a supporting role in this year’s tournament.
One-over-par through 12 holes of his opening round, the 43-year-old is currently mired in a lowly tie for 71st place, a full seven shots adrift of early leaders Christian Nilsson (65) and Federico Colombo, the latter yet to complete his round.
The pair currently enjoy a one-shot advantage over a trio of players, including Italian teenager Matteo Manassero.
Tournament favourite and world no3 Lee Westwood (71), joined this week in making his final competitive appearance of the Open Championship swing by Justin Rose (two-under through 12) and Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell (72), currently occupies a place on the periphery of the top-20.