It was the turn of Welshman Rhys Davies to be put under the microscope by Colin Montgomerie today – but it was the Ryder Cup captain who made the better start to the Alstom French Open at Le Golf National near Paris.
While Davies, winner in Morocco in March and runner-up in his last two events in Europe, set off with a string of pars Montgomerie sank a 20-foot birdie putt on the short 11th – his second – and remained one under after six.
That put him three behind early pacesetter Felipe Aguilar, the Chilean holing his approach to the 405-yard fifth for an eagle two and having birdies on the third and sixth to reach four under.
Montgomerie had missed the eve-of-tournament pro-am to rest the calf muscle and Achilles tendon problem he battled with in Munich last week.
But he was always likely to tee off in the main event, whereas it remained to be seen whether last year’s runner-up Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter were fit enough to play.
World number three Westwood went to hospital yesterday and was mightily relieved to be told the swelling in his right leg was not a blood clot as first feared, while Poulter also had his leg treated after suffering an insect bite while practising at Woburn on Monday.
They both had afternoon starts, so could delay a decision.
Aguilar led by two from English pair Nick Dougherty and Steve Webster, Argentina’s Ariel Canete, Australian Rick Kulacz and Spain’s 2008 winner Pablo Larrazabal, keen to make to make up for the disappointment of dropping three late shots when leading the BMW International Open on Sunday.
Ireland’s Rory McIlroy hit his approach to three feet on the 443-yard 12th and joined Montgomerie on one under, but Luke Donald, even closer on the 10th, fell back to one over by tangling with the rough down the 12th and then dropping another at the next.