Flying start for Boyd in Paris
England's Gary Boyd put his Celtic Manor horror show firmly behind him with a brilliant start to the Alstom French Open on Thursday.
Just over a month since running up two 10s in an opening 88 at the Wales Open, the 25-year-old from Banbury produced a bogey-free 66 at Le Golf National near Paris.
Boyd, twice a runner-up since graduating from the Challenge Tour at the end of the 2009 season, shared the early lead with Italian teenager Matteo Manassero and Swede Christian Nilsson.
After three birdies in the first four holes former amateur international Boyd picked up more shots at the ninth and 10th and then parred in over a closing stretch sure to create drama when the 2018 Ryder Cup is staged here.
Manassero, who already has two Tour wins to his name, also had five birdies and no dropped shots, while Nilsson still had four dangerous holes to come.
Some of the bigger names got off to rocky starts, but were fighting their way back in it.
World number three Lee Westwood was four over after a double bogey at the 15th - his sixth - but then came four birdies to take him back to level par, the same as Graeme McDowell, who had kicked off his challenge with a double bogey.
Welshman Jamie Donaldson, winner of the Irish Open on Sunday, appeared to be suffering something of a reaction, however. He was four over after 17 and still searching for his first birdie.
Open champion Darren Clarke and English trio Justin Rose, Ian Poulter and Paul Casey were all among the later starters.
Nilsson took over at the top when he birdied the 15th and parred the final three for a six under 65.
Boyd said: "I went to see my coach in America and have worked hard. There have been a lot of positive signs the last three weeks and I felt my game was in good shape coming here."
Westwood's one under 70 was a fine effort given he had been four over after six, but he had to work hard for a closing par five on the ninth.
His drive finished on the edge of the lake and Westwood rolled up his trouser legs, but kept his shoes and socks on and had water up to his calves as he hacked the ball out.
McDowell bogeyed the seventh and had to settle for a 72, while Donaldson could do no better than a five over 76 and said: "I was a little bit tired and didn't really know what was going on. It was not as bad as it could have been."
Rose made a fine start, birdies at the second, third and sixth taking him into a tie for fifth on three under, three behind Nilsson.
In stark contrast, Casey was three over after eight as he continued his latest comeback from the shoulder dislocation he suffered snowboarding on Christmas Eve.
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