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French fancy on cards for Rory McIlroy at Open

By Mark Garrod

The Holywood star Rory McIlroy produced a few fireworks before the threat of lightning halted play in Paris.

Despite picking up a shot on his opening nine holes, McIlroy was three under, leaving him four behind Robert-Jan Derksen who finished on eight under after a 71.

But Darren Clarke’s woes deepened as he looks set to miss the cut after a two over 69.

Michael Hoey (74) and Gareth Maybin (69) made it through right on the one-over par cut-off mark.

Damien McGrane retained his overnight position of three under after eight while Peter Lawrie stayed on level par after five.

Shane Lowry bogeyed the last to end with a 71 and two-over par tally and miss only his fourth cut in 16 events this year.

Paul McGinley is on his way home after finishing on three over following a 70 and Simon Thornton, eighth in Munich last week, will also exit after firing a disappointing 76 for six over.

Meanwhile, Martin Kaymer gave a promise after staying in the hunt for a second successive French Open title — no more go-karting before the Ryder Cup.

The 25-year-old German added a 67 to his opening 66 to be just one behind Spaniard Alejandro Canizares at halfway.

Last year Kaymer beat Lee Westwood in a play-off on the course, then went to the Scottish Open at Loch Lomond and won there as well.

But just a few weeks later he broke three toes crashing into another go-kart and was forced out of the game for two months.

Currently sixth in the race for places in Colin Montgomerie's side for Celtic Manor in October Kaymer said: “I went go-karting again earlier this year, but there will definitely be no more before the Ryder Cup.”

Both he and Canizares, son of 1989 cup hero Jose-Maria, had their rounds interrupted for nearly two and a half hours by that thunderstorm.

At that stage they were two behind Dutchman Robert-Jan Derksen, but Canizares then had four birdies in his last five holes for a second 66 in a row and Kaymer birdied the 10th, 14th and 17th.

“My dad is coming tomorrow, so I'm really looking forward to the weekend,” added world number 11 Kaymer.

Canizares, whose one previous victory came in Russia four years ago, had to return to the qualifying school last November, but fellow graduates Simon Khan and Fredrik Andersson Hed have already lifted trophies and the 27-year-old from Madrid hopes to

do the same tomorrow.

Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter, both doubtful before the start with leg problems, are three under after rounds of 69 and 67 — but with less than two weeks to go to the start of The Open at St Andrews, Westwood was limping badly over the closing stretch.

The world number three went to hospital for a check-up on Wednesday after it was feared he might have a blood clot, but tests proved otherwise and he revealed he has been battling with a sore Achilles tendon for seven months.

“I think I just need to ice it,” he said. “It doesn't hurt when I swing — I guess a little bit on the way through — but it's the walking.

“It doesn't feel very nice on short, sharp hills and there are a lot of them around here.”

Westwood had a hat-trick of birdies early on, but bogeyed the 17th for the second day running and put his tee shot into the lake for a double-bogey five at the short second. He came back, though, with further birdies on the sixth and seventh.

Poulter was pleased with his recovery from a bad reaction to an insect bite on Monday and did not drop a stroke.

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