Fisher to the fore as 'near miss' fuels fire

The British teenager Oliver Fisher took the early lead in the first round of the French Open here yesterday with a five-under-par 66. Fisher, 19, headed the 2007 US Open champion Angel Cabrera by a stroke after the Argentine carded a bogey on the last hole.

Fisher lost a play-off to the Frenchman Thomas Levet in the Andalucia Open in March but said his defeat had been a help rather than a disappointment. "My near miss in Spain was a great confidence boost," he said. "I played with Lee Westwood in the last two rounds and I outplayed him by a couple of shots. And look what he can do. That was the first time I'd really been in contention for a title as a professional and I know I can get better and better."

Cabrera mounted his challenge despite running up a double-bogey going out. Five birdies around that mishap and seven in all encouraged the Argentine. "I'm happy coming back to Europe because I always putt better at this time here," he said. "I putted very well today and I'm looking forward to the rest of the week." The recent Austrian Open winner, Jeev Milkha Singh of India, was in a large group two shots off the pace.