Open de France 2017 Preview

The BMW International Open 2017 Preview

We preview this week's European Tour event, the Open de France.

The second leg of the Rolex series sees an excellent field tee it up at Le Golf National for the prestigious Open de France. Officially starting in 1906, this is the oldest national golfing championship in continental Europe, with one look at the winner’s list exposing a plethora of major championship winners and further venerable names. Of added interest is the fact that this will be the host of next season’s Ryder Cup. Clearly, players will want to make an impression here in order to stake a claim for possible captain’s picks. The links-style bunkers and undulating fairways also provide perfect preparation for the upcoming Open Championship at Royal Birkdale.

Jon Rahm has brought his brand of belligerent brilliance to the tour this week, with much fanfare anticipating the arrival of a player many see as Seve Mach 2. I’m not too concerned by his missed cut at Erin Hills, though his rather sulky demeanour was slightly worrisome. Defending champion Thongchai Jaidee returns, but one can imagine that the advancing years and increased competition will make it hard for the evergreen Thai to retain his title. Andres Romero’s absolutely unheralded victory last week will have all the top players on their toes, especially considering the fact that he pipped Masters Champion Sergio Garcia to the post.

This course plays tough and double figure digits usually mean contention. It is also reported to be quite wet and dire out there for all four days, further exacerbating the links connection. Francisco Molinari will be looking to finally win here after three runner-up finishes, while the perennially underrated Alex Noren is the hottest player in the world in the last year in terms of victories. So there seems to be quite an assortment of potential contenders in one of the strongest fields that this tournament has seen of late.

Open de France | Thursday 29 June - Sunday 2 July | Le Golf National

Past Winners

2016: Thongchai Jaidee (-11) | 2015: Bernd Wiesberger (-13) | 2014: Graeme McDowell (-5) | 2013: Graeme McDowell (-9) |2012: Marcel Siem (-8)

To Win Outright

Jon Rahm 11/1 | Francisco Molinari 16/1 | Bernd Wiesberger 20/1 | Tommy Fleetwood 22/1 | Alex Noren 22/1

Value Bets

Ian Poulter - To Win 35/1 & To Place 15/2
It would appear that rumours of the demise of the sartorially exuberant Englishman were greatly over-exaggerated. Managing to keep his PGA Tour Card due to a clerical error, he managed to pick up a wonderful second place finish at the Players Championship. His performance at the notoriously demanding, water-bathed Sawgrass bodes well going into this championship. Furthermore, he has a wealth of positive experience at this very event. He has never missed the cut here in 11 attempts dating back to 2000. Along the way, he has managed to pick up three top four finishes here. Giving the potential inclement weather, I suspect that the street-smart Poulter could be a dark horse this week.

Graeme McDowell - To Win 45/1 & To Place 19/2
This one has an air of nostalgia about it. Two-time Major Championship winner McDowell has been in a rut of late. He has interestingly opted not to enter pre-qualifying for Birkdale, instead choosing to focus on trying to attain his spot via his performances in France, Ireland and Scotland. One thing that you can count on is that the ultra-competitive Norther-Irishman will be trying harder than anyone else out there. And lest we forget, he is a two-time winner of this event, winning back to back titles as recently as 2013 and 2014. He will be hugely motivated and could be worth a gander in the place markets.

Soren Kjeldsen - To Win 55/1 & To Place 12/1
Though a winner at the World Cup of Golf last year, Kjeldsen’s 2017 has been bereft of many highlights. He did manage a fairly strong showing at the WGC Matchplay, ultimately finishing in a tie for fifth, alongside a handful of finishes between 20 and 40. But if this consistent - if unremarkable performer - is to do well anywhere, it will be here. The Dane has picked up four top 20 finishes in his last four appearances here. He is devilishly accurate off the tee and has the ability to pacify difficult greens when he gets the pace of them. He looks a decent tilt at this price.
The Man to Beat

Francisco Molinari - To Win 16/1 & To Place 7/2
The diminutive Italian is one of those players that is perhaps guilty of not winning as many tournaments as he should. But he has had an excellent season plying his trade in the States, with his pinpoint driving accuracy primed to nullify the huge dangers that litter this Gallic course. Molinari has three runner-up finishes here, including a painful runner-up finish last season to Jaidee. He finished runner-up at the illustrious BMW Championship at Wentworth, indicating that he has the temperament for the big occasion. The price looks a little stiff - indicative of the way that punters deify the players from America who jump the pond to compete. But the course fits him like a glove and expect him to be in amongst it.

Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets

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