Paul McGinley refused to blame the tricky conditions for a disappointing opening round at the Saint-Omer Open.
The Irishman laboured to a three-over-par 74 to finish six shots off the lead held by Roope Kakko on a miserable day in northern France.
In a week when many of his rivals are testing themselves at the US Open in San Diego, McGinley, having failed to qualify, struggled to stamp his authority on one of the European Tour’s smallest events.
The 41-year-old hit six bogeys and three birdie, but finished on a high after coming within millimetres of an eagle on the par-five last. “It’s a difficult course but I made silly mistakes and paid the price,” he said. “I had three three-putts and a shot out of bounds and I struggled with the greens all day. They were much slower than in the pro-am yesterday.”
Kakko, of Finland, did not drop a shot in his 68 and fired three birdies to lead by one stroke. Four players are tied for second on two under, including another Finn, Mikko Korhonen, who led for much of the day until Kakko snatched the lead with a birdie at the last. Kakko jokingly added: “Mikko is probably a little upset because I birdied the last hole so I’ll have to buy the beers tonight.”
The only Midlander in the field, Robert Rock, faces a fight to make the cut after a 75.