Former champ Siem in clubhouse lead at French Open

AFP| Last Updated: Jul 03, 2014, 18:41 PM IST

Versailles: Former champion Marcel Siem of Germany was the early clubhouse leader at the French Open on Thursday as first round play got underway at Le Golf National near Versailles. 

Siem fired a six under par 65, to lead Scotland`s Stephen Gallacher by one shot, as blue skies and warm temperatures produced perfect conditions for the early starters. 

Kristoffer Broberg of Sweden, who can qualify for the British Open which begins July 17 at Hoylake with a top ten finish this weekend, was also on five under coming to the 18th before a disastrous quadruple bogey sent him plunging down the standings. 

He finished with a one under par 70. 

Siem, won the second of four professional titles at the 2012 French Open, and again found the challenging Albatross layout to his liking as he nailed eight birdies, including three of the last four holes to sit alone at the top of the leaderboard. 

Gallacher had a chance to share the lead when he bogeyed the final hole to slip to a 66 after seven straight birdies left him provisionally top of the pack. 

The 39-year-old, who is the nephew of former Ryder Cup captain Bernard, got off to a scorching start with four birdies on the front nine after starting his round at hole number ten. 

He then drained putts at the first, third and fifth holes to take the outright lead before his only bogey of the day at the difficult par four seven.

"I had an eight foot putt to go eight under but that`s what this course can do," said Gallacher who faces five tournaments over the next six weeks in a bid to crack into the Ryder Cup team. 

"I`ve struggled a bit the past few weeks but I`ve been working hard and I pretty much hit all of my targets today," added the player who hails from Linlithgow, just a few miles from Gleneagles where the Ryder Cup will by played in September. 

"It`s a massive run for me, five tournaments and I`ve just got to go out and try and play my best golf." he added. 

Gallacher, who won his third European title earlier this year at the Dubai Desert Classic, has had two top five finishes in his last four tournaments, tied for second at the Scandinavian Masters and tied for fifth at the BMW PGA Championship. 

Alone in fourth was Welshman Jamie Donaldson, who is coming off a fifth place finish at last weekend`s BMW International Open near Cologne, and carded a four under par 71 that included seven birdies and three bogeys. 

The top Frenchman was Alexander Levy who was tied for seventh on two under par, while Thomas Levet, the last home golfer to win in Paris in 2011, slumped to a five over par round of 76.

The feature group of the day -- defending champion Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland, Germany`s US Open champion Martin Kaymer and French star Victor Dubuisson -- began their round at 1:20 pm local time (1120GMT). 

European Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley pulled out before teeing off with a shoulder injury and was replaced by Scotland`s Andrew McArthur.