Sterne overcomes early double for French contention

Richard Sterne had to overcome an early double bogey at the Alstom Open de France on Thursday, but the six-time European Tour winner fought his way back to share of third.


“It’s a great start around a tough course, especially after my start where I doubled the second. It was probably a good thing to get my blood boiling and make me focus!” he said.


The wee man from Pretoria shrugged off the double drop with four birdies before the turn, picking up from his tied-22nd finish at the Irish Open a week ago.


“In Ireland I played pretty well and if I can give myself a chance on Sunday it would be nice,” he said.


After displaying a full recovery from his back injury when he won the Joburg Open in January, Sterne progressed to tied 25th at The Masters and is yet to finish outside the top 20 at WGC events this season.


A withdrawal from the US Open due to the birth of his first child has been the only time Sterne hasn’t looked like a threat this season.


“We had a baby, so I was at home for a month and I haven’t played much. It’s a different part of my life now and I’m looking forward to it!” he smiled.


With an opening 68 at the incredibly tough Le Golf National, which will host the Ryder Cup in 2014, Sterndog yet again threw his hat into the ring. He closed out the first round of the Open de France two strokes off the pace of leader Anders Hansen.


“I decided anything under par would be good and I got on to a run and made some putts, so and I’m happy with that performance. I had lots of opportunities and 68 is a good position,” said Sterne.


But the in-form Graeme McDowell and Thomas Bjorn both shared third with Sterne, and the South African will have to rise to the challenge over the coming 54 holes.


Fighting the good fight was 2011 Alfred Dunhill Championship winner Garth Mulroy, who had to settle for one-under-par after making bogeys at the 17th and 18th.


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