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Derksen opens commanding lead in French Open

Derksen was in fine form in his first round in Paris with an eight-under 63.
Derksen was in fine form in his first round in Paris with an eight-under 63.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Robert Jan-Derksen leads French Open after first round eight-under 63
  • French favorite Jean Van de Velde in three-strong chasing group on 66
  • World number three Lee Westwood shrugs off leg problem to shoot a 70

(CNN) -- Dutchman Robert Jan-Derksen holds a three-shot lead over a star-studded field after the first round of the French Open on Thursday.

The former Dubai Desert Classic champion carded an eight-under 63 on the Golf National course near Paris to open up a sizeable advantage over a three-strong chasing group.

That includes French veteran Jean Van de Velde, who is forever remembered for his last hole disaster which cost him the 1999 British Open at Carnoustie.

The 44-year-old would qualify for this year's British Open at St. Andrews but given his now lowly world ranking of 1,175 would need to win his national open title after being given a sponsors' invite.

"I have no expectations whatsoever, even now. Especially now.

I have no expectations whatsoever, even now. Especially now
--Jean Van de Velde
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"But we will see -- you never know with a Frenchman," he told the official European Tour website.

Defending champion Martin Kaymer of Germany and Spain's Alejandro Canizares are also on five-under 66.

European number one Lee Westwood and and his fellow English star Ian Poulter shot 70 and 72 respectively after being passed fit following leg injuries.

Northern Ireland ace and world number 10 Rory McIlroy began his campaign with a 68 to be well-placed.

But they are all chasing Derksen, who started in the last group and came home in five-under 30 to take the lead.

"It was great, starting out it's never too easy," he said.

"I've been playing really good actually. At the start it was very difficult -- I didn't have the confidence and now I do have the confidence. If I can keep this up I can definitely be in contention."