(Reuters) - World number 411 Bradley Dredge recovered from a bogey at his first hole to take the first-round lead with a four-under-par 67 at the HNA France Open in Paris on Thursday.
He headed Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland and Englishman Andy Sullivan by one stroke at the Le Golf National course that will host the Ryder Cup in three months.
“To have a bad start on 10 with a poor tee shot but after that to remain bogey-free, very pleased with that,” said Dredge after playing with a steadiness that belied his lowly ranking.
A two-time winner on the European Tour, he made a slow start to the year but has found a little form in his past three tournaments, with a tie for 26th at the BMW International Open on Sunday suggesting he is trending in the right direction.
American world number two Justin Thomas, making a reconnaissance mission of sorts ahead of the Ryder Cup, carefully plotted his way around a course where precision is generally more important than power.
His one-under 70 included a bogey and a double-bogey at holes where his conservative approach did not pay off.
“Just had two bad swings that cost me three shots — two holes I’m hitting four-irons off the tee and if I get it in play, I’m looking to make a birdie and I make bogey and double-bogey (instead),” he said.
The France Open is the first of three consecutive $7 million events in the European Tour’s Rolex Series.
Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina