Sport Golf

Thursday 19 April 2018

McDowell in contention at French Open

Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland attempts a putt on the eighteenth green on the first day of the French Open Golf tournament at Paris National course in Guyancourt
Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland attempts a putt on the eighteenth green on the first day of the French Open Golf tournament at Paris National course in Guyancourt

Phil Casey

Graeme McDowell is four under at the Alstom Open de France in Paris while his playing partner Thomas Bjorn overtook compatriot Anders Hansen at the top of the leaderboard after the second round of the Alstom Open de France was delayed by bad weather.

Fog at Le Golf National outside Paris meant a one-hour delay to starting times but when play did get under way, Bjorn wasted little time in moving in the right direction.

Starting from the 10th, Bjorn birdied his opening hole and then holed from eight feet on the 13th and just two feet on the par-five 14th, where playing partner McDowell's ball was already nestled just inches from the hole.

At six under par Bjorn led by one from Hansen, who was not due out until late this afternoon, with McDowell's birdies on the 14th and the 10th taking him to four under.

The former US Open champion had missed the cut in five of his last six strokeplay events before this week, but insisted he would not be pressing the panic button, especially as that stretch included victory in the RBC Heritage and at the Volvo World Match Play Championship in Bulgaria.

Overnight leader Hansen has played just 10 events so far this season and will undergo an operation on his left hand on Tuesday that will keep him out of several more, but insisted he was looking forward to it.

"My hand feels fine but I'm having my operation on Tuesday, so I'm looking forward to getting that out of the way and hopefully be ready for the end of the season," the two-time PGA Championship winner said.

"It's a problem I have had for years and years and years that I have managed with cortisone injections before.

"There's basically no meniscus in this part of the hand so it goes straight, bone on bone, so no cartilage. They are going in in three different places and they are going to remove a cyst I have here and clean this up and there's a 50/50 chance it's going to be okay.

"The other thing is to take the whole bone out and cut it a bit, but that's a big operation and I would be out for six months. So we are hoping to do that (the first option) and it's going to be good enough."

Bjorn, who has been fourth, second, second and 18th in his last four events, saved par after missing the green on the 17th, but was unable to repeat the feat from a greenside bunker on the 18th.

That dropped him back into a tie for the lead with Hansen and South African Richard Sterne, who had birdied the 10th and 14th to improve to five under par.

McDowell remained four under while the third member of the group, France's Gregory Bourdy, was two under after an amazing birdie on the 18th. Bourdy's hooked tee shot was heading for the water before it hit a tree and bounced back into the middle of the fairway, from where he hit his approach to 25ft and holed the putt.

Bjorn was briefly overtaken at the top of the leaderboard when England's James Morrison birdied the first, second, fifth and sixth to improve to six under par.

But Morrison then bogeyed the eighth as Bjorn was making a birdie four on the par-five third which lifted him back into the outright lead once more.

Morrison was one of five players sharing second place, with Scotland's Stephen Gallacher, 2007 winner Graeme Storm and Spain's Alejandro Canizares all on five under approaching the end of their rounds.

Press Association

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