The golfing attention is beginning to head towards the Ryder Cup but before we get there we have one more tournament on the DP World Tour, which fittingly comes from the last European venue to host that tournament when the Open de France is played out at Le Golf National in Paris.
Guido Migliozzi was the man who lifted the trophy on this famous golf course a year ago and the Italian will be looking to make a successful defence of his crown against a much better field than the one he beat in 2022.
2022 – Guido Migliozzi
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
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.
With no PGA Tour event this week the field for this tournament is stronger than it might otherwise have been, even allowing for all bar one of the Ryder Cup players to understandably be taking the week off. We have four players in the top 50 in the world rankings here this week headed up by Tom Kim, with the BMW PGA Championship winner Ryan Fox, Min Woo Lee and Billy Horschel completing the quartet of elite players. Robert MacIntyre is the one man who will be representing Europe next week who tees it up in Paris.
Nine other players from the top 100 in the world ranking are in the field this week. Aaron Rai is taking advantage of no PGA Tour event to appear while Victor Perez will be looking for a big week on home soil. Alexander Bjork, Thomas Detry, Thriston Lawrence, Jordan Smith, Throbjorn Olesen, Adrian Otaegui and Rasmus Hojgaard complete those inside the top 100 in the world. Yannik Paul, Jorge Campillo and Marcel Siem are inside the top 20 in the Race to Dubai rankings and will be looking to enhance their place in those standings this week.
Tom Kim doesn’t appear on the DP World Tour too often but the Korean is the favourite to win the tournament this week. He is the one top 20 player in the field in Paris and is 10/1 to follow up a top 20 finish at Wentworth last week, where he stalled in the final round, with the title this week. You would imagine last week was a good guide for what to expect in terms of the slower conditions but whether he is accurate enough off the tee here would be the question. I wouldn’t be surprised if he wins but I don’t think he’s a guarantee.
Min Woo Lee is a point bigger than the Korean player at 11/1. He is more of a regular on the DP World Tour and comes here off the back of two top 15 finishes in the last fortnight as well as another at the British Masters back in July. Surprisingly this is his debut at the Open de France, which will be a negative, but he certainly has the class to come through the field. He is another who has the quality to win but isn’t overly appealing at the prices.
Ryan Fox is 14/1 to win a second iconic DP World Tour event in as many weeks after he landed the BMW PGA Championship in dramatic fashion last week. I’m always turned off by the previous week winner because winning takes so much out of a player mentally and emotionally if not physically, particularly an event with the prestige and magnitude of that one. The Kiwi finished sixth here in 2017 which might encourage some but I would expect a flat spot at some point which would go against him.
Aaron Rai is the 16/1 fourth favourite to take advantage of playing down a level from the PGA Tour. I must admit I’m not massively enamoured by the price but he is certainly the sort of player who could win this event because he is robotically straight off the tee and I would certainly expect the winner of this to be playing from the fairway. Rai has finished fifth in Italy and was second last week and if those four days at Wentworth haven’t taken too much out of him he should be a contender here. Two missed cuts from two tries is a concern though.
Alexander Bjork looks a fairly obvious pick this week. He is third on the DP World Tour in driving accuracy and I really do think that is going to be a massive thing in this tournament. If that isn’t enough he has had three spins around here which have yielded results of T3-T8-T20 so this is a course he clearly gets along with. That is two boxes ticked and the third one is current form where he has gone T14-2-MC-T18 in the last four weeks so he is hitting the ball well too. Bjork has two runner up finishes, three more top fives and another three top 10 finishes this season and I would be very surprised if he isn’t in the picture at the end of this week.
Connor Syme has been on my radar for the past two weeks and he delivered a place in the first week and went out in the final group on Sunday in the other but I’m not giving up on the Scot just yet. He is hitting the ball really well from tee to green and when you consider the majority of the leading contenders as far as the betting is concerned this week are all on debut on this track, any issues on the greens might not be the disadvantage that it might be another week. Syme comes in here with form figures of T4-T3-T7-T10 and those numbers are enough for me to side with him again this week.
I’ll stick with the Scots for the first of my outsider bets which comes in the form of Richie Ramsay, who sits number 10 on the DP World Tour for fairways hit and for much of the opening round at Wentworth last week held the 18 hole lead. Ultimately, Wentworth proved to be too long for him but I’m not convinced the same will be said of Le Golf National this week. Ramsay has three top five finishes around here and while he faded away at Wentworth, he has broken 70 in five of his last nine rounds on three classic, tough golf courses. Ramsay won last year so he knows how to get over the line and I think he’ll be there or thereabouts here.
The other player I’ll take a chance with is James Morrison. There aren’t many players in this field who have broken par in 15 of his last 16 rounds of golf and while T18 last week is the best finish he has managed, this isn’t one of those tracks where you need to be in the high teens under par to win like most of the DP World Tour events recently. Migliozzi won on -16 last year but that was one of only two times in the last 11 runnings of this event that better than -12 has been scored and when Bernd Wiesberger won with -13 in 2015 he won by three so -12 would have been plenty there. In his last six starts Morrison has finished -12, +2, -10, -9, -5 and -10 so he’s in the ball park of a winning score. He finished second here in 2015 and led the field after 54 holesin 2011 before butchering up the final round. This is clearly a course he likes and if he can maintain his solid scoring for another week he could be right in the mix. He sits at 18 for driving accuracy on the DP World Tour this term so he ticks enough boxes for an outsider bet.
Back A.Bjork to win Open de France (e/w) for a 1.5/10 stake at 19.00 with Sky Bet (1/5 1-8)
Back C.Syme to win Open de France (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 34.00 with Coral (1/5 1-10)
Back R.Ramsay to win Open de France (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 67.00 with Betfair (1/5 1-7)
Back J.Morrison to win Open de France (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 126.00 with Coral (1/5 1-10)