Van de Velde Storms to Home Lead


2005 Open de FranceVERSAILLES, France -- Local favorite Jean Van de Velde fired a 7-under-par 64 on Thursday to lead during the suspended first round of the Open de France.
First-round action on the Albatross Course at Le Golf National was suspended for the day due to thunderstorms. Play was stopped at 3:30 p.m. local time and was eventually suspended for the day.
The first round will resume at 7:30 a.m. Friday. The players from the morning tee times were able to complete their rounds, however no one in the afternoon group completed 12 holes before action was stopped for the day.
Jonathan Lomas is one stroke behind Van de Velde after opening with a 6-under-par 65. Frenchman Francois Delamontagne posted a 4-under-par 67. He stands in a tie for third place alongside Richard Sterne, Anders Hansen and Miguel Angel Jimenez, who have each completed their rounds.
Scotsman Raymond Russell also stands at minus-4 through 10 holes, while Soren Hansen is 4 under through six holes of action.
Van de Velde, best known for his late collapse in the 1999 British Open, started his round on the back nine and parred his first two holes. He then dropped in a birdie putt on the 12th and made it two in a row with a birdie on the par-4 13th.
The Frenchman birdied the par-5 14th and made it four in a row with a birdie on the 15th. He parred four straight holes around the turn.
Van de Velde converted back-to-back birdies chances from the second to move to 6 under. He drained a birdie putt on the par-3 eighth to secure the top spot on the leaderboard.
The 39-year-old has been struggling with his game since having his right knee surgically reconstructed in 2002. Van de Velde got into the field this week on a sponsor's invitation and hopes to regain full status on the European Tour by the end of next season.
'I have given myself up to the end of next year to get back on tour,' said Van de Velde. 'When you can shoot 64 over a course like this you know you have played good golf because it is a good test. If I can keep playing like this and things go my way, then everything is in reach.'
Lomas was in the first group out off the first tee Thursday morning. He dropped in back-to-back birdies from the first. The Englishman faltered to a bogey on the third.
He bounced right back with a birdie on the fourth. Lomas made it two in a row as he sank a birdie putt on the fifth. He made the turn at minus-4 thanks to a birdie on the ninth.
Lomas drained a birdie putt on the 11th. He then birdied No. 13 to get to minus-6 and parred in to take second place.
Defending champion Jean-Francois Remesy posted a 3-under-par 68 where he stands in a tie for ninth place. He was joined there by Martin Erlandsson, Sam Little, Andrew Marshall and Ricardo Gonzalez, who are all finished their rounds.
Niclas Fasth, Niki Zitny, Henrik Stenson and Simon Wakefield also stand at minus-3 with several holes still to play.
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