The venue of the 2018 Ryder Cup, Le Golf National plays host to this week’s Open de France which will be played over the Albatross course that surrounds the Chateau of Versailles, once home of King Louis XIV and one of three courses that make up Le Golf National.
The French Open is one of the oldest Open Championships played in Europe, the first event was won by Arnaud Massy who then went onto win the championship three more times. He also won the Open Championship held at Royal Liverpool in 1907, becoming the first none British player to win the event.
Other major winners who have won the Open de France reads like a who’s who of golf and includes JH Taylor, James Braid, George Duncan, Walter Hagen, Bobby Locke, Byron Nelson, Kel Nagle, Roberto De Vicenzo, David Graham, Seve Ballesteros, Greg Norman, Sandy Lyle, Nick Faldo, Bernhard Langer, Retief Goosen, Jose Maria Olazabal and Martin Kaymer.
In 1985, the French Golf Federation's Executive Committee decided they wanted to give the Open de France a permanent home and came up with a plan to build the Le National Club, it took three years to construct and was open for play in 1990. Hubert Chesneau and Robert Von Hagge designed the 6,854-yard Albatross course and although built on flat farmland it manages to combine a links feel with American style target golf. The course has wide undulating fairways, with links style bunkering, water hazards and with artificially created sand dunes it offers a tough test of golf.
My Tips to win:
Watching Martin Kaymer 14/1 at the BMW International Open two weeks ago, gave you a glimpse of the player who won his first major back in 2010, with his opening round 64. I did think the German would go onto win more majors, but then we all know the swing changes he tried to implement have set him back. I felt holing the winning putt at Medinah to win the Ryder Cup for Europe would have been the catalyst for Martin, but it seems to have taken him longer to start challenging to win than I thought it would. Kaymer shot a 62 here on the way to winning this event in 2009 and I think he can repeat that win here this week.
Francesco Molinari 28/1 seems to enjoy this course and has two runners up finishes in 2010 and 2012, but 2013 hasn’t seen the Italian playing his best golf with only five Top 25 finishes from twelve events. Francesco did have a solid Irish Open and finished well in tough conditions on Sunday to fire a two under par 70 which contained five birdies. If he brings that form here and the obvious positive vibes on a course he enjoys then look for him to be in the thick of it come Sunday.
Defending champion Marcel Siem 33/1 has already won this year at the Trophée Hassan II and has had a couple of solid tournaments on the PGA Tour including a Top 10 finish at the Valero Texas Open. Marcel comes into this week on the back of another Top 10 at the BMW International Open and should be in confident mood teeing it up at Le Golf National.
My each-way tips:
It's tough playing in front of a home crowd but it seemed to spur on Raphael Jacquelin 66/1 last year to his best finish in the event, taking third place with a final round 69. Raphael comes into this week on the back of a Top 25 finish at the Irish Open where a final round 76 saw him tumble down the leaderboard sixteen places. I am sure Jacquelin will take the positives from the first three days, and with a win under his belt already this year, look for this Frenchmen to make the home crowd happy.
I am going to stick with Peter Uihlein 66/1 this week. I thought the lad from Massachusetts was going to do us proud last week as he sat firmly at the Top of the Irish leaderboard after two rounds, but his final two rounds of 74, 77 saw him plummet down the leaderboard. As I said last week I don’t think it's going to be long before the American will win one of the bigger events on the European Tour and I am sure he will learn a lot from last weekend.
I was surprised to see Richardo Santos 125/1 this far down the betting sheet considering his Top 15 finish at the Irish Open last weekend in some tough conditions. I tipped the Portuguese player earlier in the season when he started with five Top 25 finishes from his first six events, four of those were Top 10 finishes. Ricardo then went off the boil a bit but had some solid Top 20 finishes along the way, so it looks like Santos is coming back into form and a pound each-way at these odds looks a good bet.
As always good luck