France's Clement Sordet plays on at Troon after tragedy back home

TROON, Scotland -- Just a year ago Clement Sordet moved to the city of Nice, France, to live with his girlfriend, Marie. She's from there, so it seemed like a natural fit for the couple. They found an apartment right near the Mediterranean Sea in Place Massena, considered the most radiant section of the city's historical district. When Sordet isn't competing on the developmental Challenge Tour, he enjoys his new life there.

He never could have imagined the tragedy that befell the city Thursday night.

Playing in the first group off the tee in the second round of the 145th Open, Sordet had gone to bed early. He awoke Friday morning at 4 a.m. to text messages inquiring whether he'd heard the news.

Sordet soon found out what the world had learned overnight. A grenade-filled truck had plowed through large groups celebrating Bastille Day, a terror attack that reportedly killed 84 people and injured dozens of others.

"I tried not to think about it," the 23-year-old said of the tragedy during his second round.

That proved to be impossible.

Sordet printed the words "Pray For Nice" in blue ink on the right side of the bill of his cap. Like many other players, he also attached a black ribbon.

One of two French players in this week's tournament field, along with former Ryder Cup team member Victor Dubuisson, Sordet posted a 4-over 75 on Friday morning and missed the cut. That seemed less important after what had taken place back home.

He and Marie, who is here with him this week, live just 500 meters, he explained, from where the attack happened. Their apartment is just around the block and they know many people who were in the city Thursday night.

In fact, Marie's mother, Sophie, was planning to attend the celebration, but decided against it. She remained safe. So, too, did many of their friends.

"They're safe now, so everything's OK," Sordet said. "But I feel really bad for all of the other [people]."

Soft-spoken and polite, he answered questions after his round about the tragedy and all of the emotions he was feeling.

At one point, Sordet was asked what he said to other players when he arrived at Royal Troon on Friday morning.

"I just say my prayers," he told them. "That's it."

Thomas Levet echoed that sentiment Friday.

A six-time European Tour winner and runner-up at The Open in 2002, his thoughts were similarly with the people of his home country.

"It's awful," said Levet, who is covering this week's event for the Canal+ television network. "The 14th of July is supposed to be a good day for France; it's a national holiday. It's now become a sad day, as well."

Much as Levet was a generation ago, Sordet is now an up-and-comer in the world of professional golf. He won six college events while attending Texas Tech, then turned pro last year and won the Northern Ireland Open. He added to his resume with a victory at the Turkish Airlines Challenge two months ago, which could serve as a springboard to European Tour membership next season.

During a time of revelry in France, his qualification into the world's oldest major championship should have been one more reason for celebration.

Instead, this has become a time of deep sorrow, with more lingering questions than answers.

Sordet will compete in tournaments during each of the next two weeks, then return home to Nice afterward. He insisted he isn't nervous about going back, but knows everything will be a little different.

Anyone who saw him Friday, who saw those words printed on his cap, understands.

"I'm really proud to be French," he said. "I think we all need to support each other."