It was a tough day for the Irish contingent as debutant Tom Kim shot a stellar seven-under-par 65 to lead the Cazoo Open de France at Le Golf National.
John Murphy is the best placed of the Irish after a level-par 71 leaves him just outside the top 70. Murphy started on the 10th hole and made nine pars in a row on his back nine before an eventful front nine. The Cork made a double-bogey on the second before birdies on the third, fourth and sixth took him to one-under but a bogey on eight meant a unspectacular level par round.
Tom McKibbin and Mark Power shot disappointing rounds of 73 to sit just outside the top 100. McKibbin combined three birdies and three bogeys to sit level par through 17 holes, but a double bogey on 18 means McKibbin will need a good round two just to make the weekend in Paris as he looks to secure his place in the top 50 on the Race to Dubai.
Four bogeys and two birdies for Mark Power resulted in the same score and in his second start as a pro, the Kilkenny man will need a round in the 60s to make the weekend for the second time in a row to begin his pro career.
Tom Kim produced a stunning birdie blitz to take first-round leader honours. The South Korean was making his first appearance at Le Golf National but you would not have known it as he made six birdies in seven holes to sign for a bogey-free 64 and hit the top of the leaderboard at seven under.
English pair Richard Mansell and Matthew Southgate were at six under along with Spaniard Alfredo Garcia-Heredia and Swede Joakim Lagergren, who was facing a 28-foot putt for par on the last when play was suspended due to fading light.
There was then a group of ten players in a tie for sixth at five under. South African Louis de Jager, Scottish pair Ewen Ferguson and David Law, Swede Simon Forsström, Japanese duo Kazuki Higa and Ryo Hisatsune, Dane Rasmus Højgaard, Spaniard Adrian Otaegui and Englishmen Jordan Smith and Andrew Wilson are all two shots off the lead.
Kim burst onto the DP World Tour scene with a third-placed finish at last season’s Genesis Scottish Open and since then has become a global star, winning twice on the PGA TOUR and making his Presidents Cup debut and he continued to impress on day one in France despite playing in the tougher early conditions as the rain hammered the 2018 Ryder Cup venue.
“I didn’t really expect anything,” he said. “It played really hard today with the rain, this course when it starts to rain and with the wind up, it’s not easy.
“I knew I was playing well and I just tried to play the round as stress-free as possible. I definitely did that today. I hit it really well, positioned myself well off the tee and definitely feeling good going into the next three days.
“I played last week and just with France being so close to the UK, it was just a great move.
“Knowing the Olympics is going to be here next year, if I can qualify then it’s definitely good prep. At least seeing the course before coming here, if I get the chance next year, just having that and knowing the course is going to help. It’s a bonus for me.”
All the Irish players are in the morning wave on day two with Tom McKibbin gets his second round underway first at 8am local time, 7am Irish time off the 10th tee. John Murphy gets his round underway 10 minutes later off the first hole. Mark Power gets his round underway at 9.30am local time off the 10th tee.