Westwood defies leg injury to shoot 70

Lee Westwood bravely shook off this week's health scare to shoot an opening 70 at the Alstom French Open in Paris on the day when Jean van de Velde popped up to remind people he was still in the game .

Eleven years on from the week – indeed the hole – which wrote Van de Velde into golf history at The Open, the 44-year-old hit a five-under par 66 to be in a share for second place, three behind the Dutchman Robert-Jan Derksen.

Now, if he goes on to win on Sunday, Van de Velde, no longer a European Tour card holder, will be playing in The Open at St Andrews in two weeks rather than commentating on it.

Westwood and Ian Poulter, on 72, both dropped two late shots, but were relieved to be playing after they were forced to sit out the eve-of-tournament pro-am. There was a fear Westwood was suffering a blood clot in his calf, but a visit to the hospital revealed the swelling had more to do with the heat.

"It's a bit sore and stiff and I think I have an injury in there somewhere," he said. "I think it wants rest and I have a couple of weeks after The Open when I can put my feet up."

Poulter suffered a reaction to an insect bite on his shin and was given antibiotics. After three-putting the 16th and 18th he said: "I got round all right, but it's been itching the whole day and driving me crazy."

World No 7 Luke Donald was two over starting for home, but finished with a one-under 70, while playing partner Rory McIlroy also covered the outward half in 33 for a 68.