Binaghi benefits as Montgomerie falters

Alberto Binaghi, called into the French Open only on Tuesday, took full advantage of the late chance at Le Golf National yesterday. While Colin Montgomerie's disappointing start to 2000 continued with a 71, the Italian shot a six-under-par 66 to establish a one-stroke lead over the Spaniards Francisco Cea and Fernando Roca.

The 35-year-old from Milan had his bags in the boot of his car ready to depart for a Challenge Tour event in Switzerland when the call came to re-route to France. Gary Orr had decided to stay at home to be with his wife Sarah, who had their first child yesterday, and that left a vacant place.

"Now I want to make full use of it," said the man who has had to make eight trips to the European tour qualifying school in his career and lost his card again last year. He has never finished higher than seventh in any tournament since making his debut in 1984, but with nine first-time winners on the circuit already this season he is hoping the trend continues.

"It helps when you see people who have been struggling to win," Binaghi added. "We can all hit the ball, but you have to feel it, the ability to win inside, and my confidence is not that big. In the last 10 to 12 years I've only had that feeling a couple of times."

Binaghi had seven birdies but also three-putted both the sixth for bogey and the long 18th for par. At least that was better than in practice, though, when he hit three balls into the lake on the hole.

Montgomerie summed up his day with a succinct "nothing to report". Putting was his main concern after finishing fifth in the Spanish Open last weekend, and when he opened by sinking a 20-footer all was well with the world.

However, Europe's No 1 for the past seven seasons, more than £530,000 behind the current Order of Merit leader Darren Clarke, failed to follow it up and again finds himself with ground to make up.

The top three names on the leaderboard are 176th, 128th and 177th on the Order of Merit. Cea is the European tour's straightest driver, but it has not translated in cash terms yet. Despite leading the driving accuracy category last season, he finished 58th on the Order of Merit - and while he leads the category again this year, jointly with John Bickerton, he has yet to record a top-20 finish.

Roca has had 10 visits to the tour qualifying school but has also two runners-up finishes, first behind Paul Lawrie in the 1996 Catalan Open and then behind Lee Westwood in the Scandinavian Masters the same year.

NOVOTEL PERRIER FRENCH OPEN (Le Golf National, Paris) Leading first-round scores (GB or Irl unless stated):

66 A Binaghi (It); 67 F Cea (Sp), F Roca (Sp); 68 J Sandelin (Swe), S Hansen (Den), J van de Velde (Fr), S Allan (Aus), P O'Malley (Aus); 69 M A Martin (Sp), R Byrd (US), J Haeggman (Swe), N O'Hern (Aus), S Tinning (Den), A Coltart, R Winchester, R Wessels (SA), R Davis (Aus); 70 S Rowe (US), J-F Remesy (Fr), D Smyth, *B Lecuona (Fr), E Canonica (It), J Coceres (Arg), A Cejka (Ger), O Edmond (Fr), C Rodiles (Sp), J Rivero (Sp), G Owen, P Lonard (Aus), A Hansen (Den), M Campbell (NZ), S Kjeldsen (Den), P McGinley, N Vanhootegem (Bel), G Rojas (Arg); 71 S Leaney (Aus), A Cabrera (Arg), B Davis, C Montgomerie, M Jonzon (Swe), F Jacobson (Swe), D Lee, M Gronberg (Swe), R Karlsson (Swe), D Park, L Alexandre (Fr), A Wall, B Dredge, G Hamerton. Selected: 72 S Ballesteros (Sp), R Claydon; 73 J Spence, D Gilford; 74 B Lane; 75 A Sherborne; 77 C Rocca (It), P Walton; 78 A Forsbrand (Swe), P Eales. *denotes amateur

general electionThis quiz matches undecided voters with the best party for them
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen starred in the big screen adaptation of Austen's novel in 2005
tvStar says studios are forcing actors to get buff for period roles
Prince William and his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge show their newly-born daughter, their second child, to the media outside the Lindo Wing at St Mary's Hospital in central London, on 2 May 2015.
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before