Paris, France (SportsNetwork.com) - Kevin Stadler fired a bogey-free, 7-under 64 on Thursday and he holds a 1-shot lead over Marcel Siem after the first round of the Alstom Open de France.
Stadler is seeking his second career victory on the European Tour, with his first one coming at the Johnnie Walker Classic in 2006. The American is also looking to win his second event of the year after hoisting the trophy at the PGA Tour's Phoenix Open back in early February.
"It's one of my best rounds of the year for sure," Stadler said. "To not make a bogey out there is something I didn't think was possible when I first played it. It's instantly one of my favorite courses ever. I thought it was spectacular from hole one to the end. They talk about the last four holes, but they are doing a discredit to the previous 14."
Siem, who is vying for his fourth victory on tour, held the clubhouse lead for a while at 6-under-par 65 at Le Golf National, but Stadler came on strong later after teeing off in the afternoon.
Stephen Gallacher is just two shots off the pace following his first-round 65, while Jamie Donaldson and Felipe Aguilar both carded matching 4-under 67s to get within striking distance.
Victor Riu, Matteo Manassero and Roope Kakko are in a three-way tie for sixth place at 3-under 68. Riu's fellow Frenchman Alexander Levy is tied for ninth with Marc Warren, Oliver Fisher, Mark Foster, Scott Jamieson and Matthew Fitzpatrick at 2-under 69 heading into the second round.
Stadler got started on the front nine, and birdies at holes two and three had him in the red numbers rather quickly. The 34-year-old picked up another birdie at the sixth to move to 3-under on the day. He made the turn with three straight pars before making his biggest move of the day.
Three straight birdies from No. 10 vaulted Stadler into a tie for first place with Siem. Stadler made one more birdie at No. 14 and rounded his day out with four straight pars to open with a 64. Stadler's bogey-free round was the only one recorded on Thursday.
Siem, who won this event back in 2012, converted eight birdie tries on his round, but two bogeys held him back a bit.
Starting on the back nine, Siem made three birdies at 12, 13 and 16, but he tripped to a bogey at the 18th as he made the turn.
Siem then went birdie, bogey, birdie from No. 1, putting him at 3-under on the day. He finished his round very strong with three straight birdies from No. 6 before making par on his final hole.
"I always enjoy coming back here, I love the track and had a good start this morning," Siem said. "The putts finally started dropping. Last week my putting was horrible, so I am really pleased."
Gallacher recorded seven birdies on the day, but like Siem, he too made two bogeys en route to his 66.
NOTES: This is the first time Stadler has visited France ... Reigning champion Graeme McDowell, playing in a marquee group with Martin Kaymer (72) and Victor Dubuisson (76), shot a 1-under 70 and is six shots back of Stadler ... Three players who finish in the top 10 this week. and who have not already qualified for The Open Championship. will earn a spot in the year's third major. If there is a tie, the player with the highest world ranking will secure a spot at Royal Liverpool.