The DP World Tour heads to France for the first time in three years this week when the Open de France takes place at Le Golf National in Paris in what should be a wonderful showpiece of European golf on a venue it had one of its best days four years ago.
Nicolas Colsaerts had one of his best days here three years ago when he sauntered off with the title and he finally gets the chance to defend the crown. A fairly good field has been assembled this week though so he’ll need his best golf to keep it.
2019 – Nicolas Colsaerts
2018 – Alex Noren
2017 – Tommy Fleetwood
2016 – Thongchai Jaidee
2015 – Bernd Wiesberger
2014 – Graeme McDowell
2013 – Graeme McDowell
2012 – Marcel Siem
2011 – Thomas Levet
2010 – Miguel Angel Jimenez
This tournament has moved around the calendar but like in the Ryder Cup in 2018, Le Golf National hosts the DP World Tour in September this year. This is a tough course and even though it will be softer at this time of year, the rough will be thick and juicy and you do not want to be on players regularly having to hack out of it. With water in play on a lot of holes and guarding a number of greens the test this week is very much a tee-to-green one whichever way you look at it.
The track is a par 71 which only stretches to 7,249 yards so it is not the longest. Accuracy has such a premium this week but a decent putter will never leave this place hungry as highlighted by the roll of honour above. I’m not interested in any bombers this week. This is a strategic test but it is a great golf course and generally the better courses provide us with a top class winner so keep those with a bit of extra class on side here.
Three members of the top 50 in the world rankings which are getting so much attention these days are in the field here. Thomas Pieters is the highest ranked player in the field with Ryan Fox and Patrick Reed the other two. A further four players come between 51-100 in those rankings and they include the winner in Italy last week in Robert MacIntyre. Adrian Meronk is also in that band as the home man Victor Perez and Thriston Lawrence.
Three other members of the top 20 in the Race to Dubai rankings are here this week looking to push towards the top 10 where the big money comes along at the end of the season as well as a PGA Tour card. They are Ewen Ferguson who goes in search of a third win on the year, Jordan Smith and Thorbjorn Olesen. Nicolas Colsaerts is here as a defending champion while the likes of Antoine Rozner, Rasmus Hojgaard and Andy Sullivan add further star quality to the field.
We have 16/1 joint favourites this week in the form of Patrick Reed and Thomas Pieters. As a LIV player Reed has been globetrotting recently. He won’t be a popular winner from within but that travelling would have to be a concern. This is his tournament debut too although he did play here in the Ryder Cup. Pieters has played well this season without winning since the opening event of the year. His record here is mixed in six starts though so they are both a little short to me.
The home star Victor Perez is a 20/1 shot this week as is the man who won last week in Robert MacIntyre. That would have been an emotional win for the Scot so it wouldn’t be a surprise if he is a little flat at some point this week. This is incredibly his tournament debut as well so there are two reasons to swerve him. Perez had a good week in Italy last week but hasn’t really delivered on home soil although he probably hasn’t headed to Paris in better form than he’s in now.
Jordan Smith is a 22/1 shot on the best prices this week. Smith hasn’t been knocking on the door this season he’s been banging it down but it hasn’t opened for him just yet. In the last three starts he was seventh in Northern Ireland, missed the cut despite shooting -3 at Wentworth and T12 in Italy last week so he isn’t in bad form. In three starts here he is yet to post anything better than T21 but he’s probably better now than at any time in his career and looks a threat.
Adrian Meronk, Ryan Fox and another home hope in Antoine Rozner are 28/1 to win the tournament this week. Meronk should go well here but hasn’t really been on it since he won in Ireland while Fox has missed two of his last three cuts and withdrew after 18 holes of the BMW PGA Championship which is a concern. Rozner has three top 20 finishes in his last four starts and carded seven under at Wentworth in the middle of that run but this is his debut here.
I took Adrian Otaegui last week where he finishes in a T25 position but he was on the wrong side of the draw and in the worst of the conditions an opening 74 pretty much put paid to his chances of doing anything. He shot six under for the last three rounds on a course which played tough like this one will so had the Spaniard just shot level par for the opening round he would have finished inside the top 12 last week. He is extremely accurate off the tee and into the greens and is in good form with three top 25 finishes in his last four starts and if he keeps hitting the ball like he is then he shouldn’t be too far away here.
Another accurate player who I like this week is Mikko Korhonen. He finished just outside the top 10 last week despite being on the wrong half of the draw and nine under for his last three rounds tells us he is continuing to hit the ball well. He was third for driving accuracy last week and fourth for greens in regulation. In fact, the Finn has made 12 of his last 13 cuts and ranked no worse than 16 for fairways hit in that time so he is going to give himself a good strike point into each of these greens. The rest of his game is showing good signs as well and if he can get a few putts to drop early doors and build some confidence I don’t see him being too far away.
Tom Lewis has been on my radar for a while. I backed him in Switzerland a few weeks ago and that was the only time in four starts he hasn’t finished in the top 20 but I’m happy to go in again because he played very well in Italy last week where nobody bettered him on strokes gained on approach and only one player hit more greens than him. In Denmark two weeks prior to that Lewis led the field in strokes gained with the putter so there are signs that all parts of his game are working nicely, he just needs them all to come together in the one week and he will be right in business. Those efforts last week was in a much stronger field than this so I’ll pay to see if he can repeat it here.
Soren Kjeldsen has a good record around here without winning and he is beginning to show signs of a decent Autumn of his career. He has a couple of top 10s in his last seven starts and was well on the way to another in his homeland before stalling over the weekend. One of those top 10s was at the BMW PGA where the field was absolutely stacked. He finished fifth there on a course you would think would have been too long for him, but like this one where accuracy was everything. In his last nine cuts made he has been in the top nine in fairways hit in seven of them and he is still pretty reliable into the greens too. If he can find some form with the putter, which he did on the sloped greens of Wentworth, then he should be able to build on the three top 10s and six more top 20s he has around here.
Back A.Otaegui to win Open de France (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 34.00 with Sky Bet (1/5 1-7)
Back M.Korhonen to win Open de France (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 41.00 with Coral (1/5 1-8)
Back T.Lewis to win Open de France (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 81.00 with Betfred (1/5 1-7)
Back S.Kjeldsen to win Open de France (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 101.00 with William Hill (1/5 1-8)
Back him here: