Lee Westwood makes steady start at French

Westwood at French Open

Westwood at French Open

First-round leaderboard:
-8 RJ Derksen (Ned) -5 A Canizares (Spa), M Kaymer (Ger), J Van de Velde (Fra) -4 D Lee (NZ), S Strange (Aus), M Siem (Ger), R Rock (Eng), J Randhawa (Ind) Selected others: -3 O Wilson (Eng), P Broadhurst (Eng), R McIlroy (NI) -2 A Scott (Aus) -1 L Westwood (Eng), L Donald (Eng), G Storm (Eng), C Wood (Eng) Par R Fisher (Eng), A Cabrera (Arg) +1 I Poulter (Eng), A Cabrera (Arg) +2 C Montgomerie (Sco)

Lee Westwood shook off a calf problem to shoot a one-under-par 70 in the first round of the French Open.

The 37-year-old missed Wednesday’s pro-am suffering from swelling in his calf but was deemed fit for the tournament.

The world number three is seven off the lead held by Robert-Jan Derksen, with Jean van de Velde three back in second.

Ryder Cup contender Martin Kaymer is also three adrift, while Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy and England’s Oliver Wilson are both on three under.

It was first feared that Worksop’s Westwood, who was last year’s runner-up following a play-off, was suffering from a blood clot but it was later revealed that the swelling in his calf was probably caused by the heat.

“It’s a bit sore and stiff and I think I have an injury in there somewhere,” he said.

“I think it wants rest and I have a couple of weeks after the Open when I can put my feet up.”

Frenchman Van de Velde, infamous for surrendering a three-shot lead following a triple-bogey at the last at the Open in Carnoustie in 1999, is alongside Kaymer and Spaniard Alejandro Canizares on five under after a 66.

If the current world number 1,175, who is not a European Tour card holder, wins the event then he will qualify for this year’s Open at St Andrews, which starts on 15 July.

“I’ve come for the fun of it. I have no expectations whatsoever – even now, especially now,” said the 44-year-old television commentator, who received a sponsor’s invitation to be part of the field.

“But we will see – you never know with a Frenchman.”

World number seven Luke Donald finished on one under , while playing partner and world number 10 McIlroy came home in 33 for his 68.

Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie, also struggling with a torn calf muscle, recorded a 73 in his first round and two-time Masters champion Jose Maria Olazabal finished on 11 over in his first tournament since October, following an ongoing battle with rheumatic shoulder pain.