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Trio Tied at the Top in France

PARIS, France -- Eric Chaudouet, an amateur, fired a 6-under-par 66 Thursday to grab a share of the lead after the first round of the Open de France. Chaudouet was joined atop the leaderboard by Philip Golding and Nicolas Colsaerts.
Miguel Angel Jimenez shot a 5-under-par 67 to grab a share of fourth place with Jose Manuel Lara, Bradley Dredge and Gary Birch, Jr.
Chaudouet, a France native and 2002 French Amateur Champion, notched his first birdie of the day at the par-5 third. He continued his bogey-free round with a birdie at the seventh.
Around the turn, Chaudouet birdied the short par-4 10th. He jumped up the leaderboard with back-to-back birdies from the 14th to get to minus-5 and closed out his round with a birdie at the last.
'I am not as good as the professionals, but not that far behind,' said Chaudouet. 'I have just played well and done the job. If the putts continue to fall anything is possible.'
Chaudouet, who is looking to become the first amateur to win on the European Tour, joins the small group of Niels Boysen, Anders Hultman and Krister Kinell as amateurs who have held the lead after the first round of an event on the European Tour.
'I know the course very well, it is my garden,' Chaudouet said. 'I won the French Amateur Championship here and have played it more than 30 times.'
Colsaerts exploded out of the gate before stumbling around the turn. He birdied the par-4 first to get his round going and vaulted up the leaderboard as he birdied six straight holes from the third.
He was 7-under through eight holes, but then dropped back to the field. He bogeyed the par-5 ninth and dropped another shot at the next. He dropped a third shot at the 12th and after three bogeys in a four-hole stretch, Colsaerts found himself at minus-4.
Colsaerts birdied the 15th and 18th to climb back into a share of first. He admitted afterwards that his quick start got him to think of how well he was playing.
'If anyone had said I would shoot 30 on the front nine I would have been pretty pleased,' said Colsaerts. 'But I didn't know how to handle it. I was thinking about a 60 because I was in the zone so I probably thought about it too much.'
Golding began his round on the front side of the Albatross Course at Le Golf National. He notched back-to-back birdies from the fifth and then again from the ninth to move to minus-4.
He cruised to the clubhouse with six pars and two birdies to grab a piece of the lead.
'I did all the right things on the course,' Golding said. 'No mistakes, made six birdies and no bogeys which is always nice. I didn't strike the ball as I would like but kept the ball in play and the bad shots were okay. I drove well and putted nicely.'
Justin Rose took a one-stroke penalty on the 17th hole when he stepped on his ball in the rough, but he still managed to card a 4-under-par 68. He is joined there by Soren Hansen, Gary Murphy, Brian Davis, Robert-Jan Derksen, Marc Farry, Alastair Forsyth and Stephen Gallacher.
Defending champion Malcolm MacKenzie is in danger of missing the cut after opening with a 4-over 76.
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