Holywood native Rory McIlroy was five shots off the lead after firing an opening round of three-under-par 68 at the French Open, but fellow world top ten stars Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter were both playing catch-up in Paris -- and not just on the leaderboard.
The two Englishmen resumed at Le Golf National today trailing Dutchman Robert-Jan Derksen by seven and nine shots respectively. But Westwood and Poulter also considered themselves to be at a disadvantage in yesterday's opening round because they were unable to play in the eve-of-tournament pro-am.
Westwood spent Wednesday afternoon in hospital having a swollen right leg looked at. He was initially told it could be a blood clot or even a deep-vein thrombosis, but further tests put his mind at rest.
"I think I've got an injury in there somewhere," said the world No3, after a one under par 70 left him in a tie for 30th. "The leg's a bit sore and stiff and the ankle is still swollen."
Westwood, who lost a play-off to German Martin Kaymer last year in this event, added: "Once I knew it was not what they suspected, I was always going to play, but I tried to work my way into it easily."
Poulter, who suffered a bad reaction to an insect bite on his shin, three-putted two of the last three greens in his 72. "I got round all right, but it was itching the whole day and driving me crazy," he said. Derksen opened up a three-stroke lead with his eight under par 63, just one outside the course record. Defending champion Kaymer shared second spot overnight with 44-year-old Jean Van de Velde -- no longer a full-time golfer -- and Spaniard Alejandro Canizares. The other world top ten player in the tournament, Englishman Luke Donald, was one under after his first round.
McIlroy shot 68 to be in joint 10th spot. Damien McGrane was also three under, Peter Lawrie level, Simon Thornton one over, Shane Lowry two over and Paul McGinley four over. Michael Hoey was two under after a 69.
Gareth Maybin was three over while Darren Clarke was four over after a 75.