Anders Hansen of Denmark shot a 5-under 66 to lead by a stroke after the first round of the French Open on a golf course that punished some of the main contenders on Thursday.
Hansen made seven birdies and two bogeys on the Albatross course of Le Golf National, which will host the Ryder Cup in 2018.
"You do want to stay out of the rubbish, and there’s plenty of it out there," Hansen said. "Every hole there’s something. One bad shot and all of a sudden you’re staring at double. It’s just tough out there."
Hansen finished fourth at the French Open in 2009 and his best result this year was a third place at the Malaysian Open in March.
Frenchman Romain Wattel was in second place, one stroke clear of nine players who shared third place, including Martin Kaymer of Germany.
The 22-year-old Wattel finished joint third at the Lyoness Open last month in Austria and wound up fourth in April at the Ballantine’s Championship in Seoul.
Past winners Martin Kaymer of Germany (68) and Miguel Angel Jimenez of Spain (69) stayed in contention, along with 2010 U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland (69) and American golfer Matt Kuchar (70).
"If you hit off line out here, you lose your ball basically," McDowell said. "It’s a very punishing golf course."
Kuchar is second in the Fedex rankings behind Tiger Woods and was making his French Open debut.
"It was an amazing reception on the first tee," Kuchar said. "It just made me feel very welcome. I was excited to get around and going."
Ranked 1560th in the world, Thomas Pieters of Belgium had a share of third place until the last hole where he made a double bogey for a 70 to slip to 24th.
The 21-year-old Pieters turned pro last month and was playing for the first time on the European Tour.
Former top-ranked Luke Donald of England birdied his last two holes to limit the damage with an even-par 71.
"This is a course that demands a lot of precision," Donald said. "If you’re a little bit off, it can bite you. It bit me on 18."
Ryder Cup star Ian Poulter (73) of England, Matteo Manassero (73) of Italy, defending champion Marcel Siem (78) of Germany and Danish prodigy Thorbjorn Olesen (78) will need a good second round on Friday to make the cut.