Graeme McDowell makes steady start to French Open defence

Graeme McDowell
Graeme McDowell is aiming to retain a European Tour title for the first time

Graeme McDowell has made a steady start to his defence of the French Open in Paris, but has ground to make up on the leaders after an opening round of 70.

McDowell posted three birdies, but his one-under-par round was marred by back-to-back bogeys at the 13th and 14th.

Michael Hoey ended the day two over after finishing with a bogey at the 17th and a triple bogey at the 18th.

American Kevin Stadler leads on seven under, one ahead of German Marcel Siem and two ahead of Stephen Gallacher.

Portrush man McDowell is trying to retain a European Tour title for the first time at Le Golf National in Paris.

"I felt like I controlled the ball well for most of the day but left a few putts out there," said the Northern Ireland player after his opening round.

"It's a solid start and I'm looking forward to getting back out there."

Hoey recorded birdies at the third, 10th and 11th holes, with bogeys coming at the eighth and 17th holes.

A disastrous seven at the final hole saw the Belfast man shoot a 73 and drop down the leaderboard.

Gareth Maybin recovered from a disappointing front nine, which included three bogeys, to also fire a 73, thanks to three late birdies.

The Ballyclare man also suffered a further setback as he registered a double-bogey six at the 12th.

Damien McGrane is best of the other Irish players on level par, with Peter Lawrie just one shot worse off.

Padraig Harrington on three over, Kevin Phelan at five over, Simon Thornton on six over and David Higgins at eight over all have work of varying degrees to do to make the halfway cut.

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