Stadler leads French Open in 1st Euro start since '06

Kevin Stadler is playing the French Open in what is his first non-major and non-WGC European Tour start since 2006.

It's been nearly eight years, but Kevin Stadler is making the most of his return to the European Tour.

Stadler is playing in his first Euro Tour event, excluding majors and WGCs, since the 2006 New Zealand Open. He has one Euro Tour victory, which came at the 2006 Johnnie Walker Classic.

Thursday, Stadler carded seven birdies and no bogeys en route to an opening-round 7-under 64 to grab a one-shot lead at the Alstom French Open. He totaled 27 putts, hit 16 greens in regulation and missed just four fairways at Le Golf National in Paris, which will host the 2018 Ryder Cup, as he tunes up for the July 17-20 Open Championship.

"Not making bogey was something I didn't think possible in my practice rounds," Stadler said. "It's one of my favorite courses. It's spectacular."

Stadler is already qualified for what will be his third major championship this year, but three invites to Royal Liverpool are available for the top three finishers inside of the top 10 and ties who are not yet in the field.

Marcel Siem of Germany, the 2012 French Open winner who is not in the British Open field as of right now, is solo second at 6 under while Stephen Gallacher of Scotland is solo third at 5 under. Gallacher is already in the Open field.

Recently turned pro Matthew Fitzpatrick didn't hit a single fairway Thursday, but he's still T-9 after shooting 69. Defending champ Graeme McDowell fired a 70 while U.S. Open winner Martin Kaymer carded a 72.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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