European Tour: Open de France Preview

Golfer admires his shot

We preview this week's Open de France set to take place between 28 June and 1 July at the picturesque Le Golf National. 

The Open de France allows players the opportunity to sample the venue for this year’s Ryder Cup. Which makes it all the more surprising that Justin Thomas is the only high profile American to brave Le National this week. Perhaps that’s a measure of the level of confidence that this current American team feels.

This is the oldest national golfing event in continental Europe, dating back all the way to 1906. This will be the 102nd staging of an event that has been a mainstay of the European Tour since its inception in 1972. This will be the start of a heavy period on the European Tour schedule that sees three consecutive Rolex Series events: the Open de France, the Irish Open and the Scottish Open.

Open de France | 28 June - 1 July | Le Golf National, Guyancourt

Le Golf National was opened as recently as 1990 and has proven to be a tough examination for the players. It is a fairly exposed track, comprised of undulating fairways of average width. This is a stadium style course designed by Robert Van Hagge and Hubert Chesneau, with bentgrass greens that measure around 12 on the stimp. Driving distance hasn’t proved nearly as decisive as the ability to find the greens around this course. Eight of the last 13 winners of this event have finished inside the top three for GIR.

Defending Champion Tommy Fleetwood had a disappointing week in Germany and will be looking to regain some positive momentum as preparations for the Open Championship begin. Sergio Garcia has had a year to forget and he may welcome a return to European soil. Jon Rahm has also gone similarly off the boil while Justin Thomas will be hoping to gain a competitive edge in the Ryder Cup later this year. Alex Levy will likely lead the local charge while the likes of Thomas Pieters and Ross Fisher lurk menacingly in the pack.

Past Winners
2017: Tommy Fleetwood (-12)
2016: Thonghai Jaidee (-11)
2015: Bernd Wiesberger (-13)
2014: Graeme McDowell (-5)
2013: Graeme McDowell (-9)

To Win Outright: 
Justin Thomas 10/1 | Jon Rahm 12/1 | Alex Noren 14/1 | Tommy Fleetwood 14/1 | Rafa Cabrera Bello 18/1

Value Bets

Andy Sullivan- To Win 22/1, To Place 48/10
Andy Sullivan has had an extremely solid season and it looks a matter of time before he adds to his three European Tour titles. In his last five starts, Sullivan has only once finished outside the top 10. The Englishman also has excellent course figures. He has played here five times with figures that read 13-5-6-26-Mc. His 13th place last year came off the back of some really average results, so one should expect him to really shine this week.

Alex Bjork- To Win 60/1, To Place 13/1
Last year’s third place finisher looks to me to be an absolute steal at 60/1, despite the relatively strong Rolex Series field this week. Bjork is deadly from the fairways and greens in regulation has proving to be a potent indicator of success in this event. Bjork has already tasted success at the Volvo China Open this year. He also picked up a third place finish at the Trophee Hassan II and a highly credible sixth place at an extremely competitive event in Dubai. That ability to mix it up in potent fields makes 60/1 all the more appealing.

Scott Hend- To Win 110/1, To Place 24/1
The journeyman Australian looks an absolute steal at 110/1, especially when you look at an encouraging run of recent form. The Aussie has three top 15 finishes in his last five events, including a seventh in Germany last time out. Hend also boasts course familiarity, making the cut all three times that he has played Le Golf National. While this course does appear a tad for Hend’s stylistics, 110/1 just doesn’t do value to the talent that the Aussie possesses.

The Man to Beat- Ian Poulter 20/1, To Place 44/10
Ian Poulter will no doubt be in the reckoning for the season-ending Ryder Cup regardless of form. It just so happens that Thomas Bjorn has little to worry about in that case. The man with a flourish for Ryder Cup histrionics has already picked up a tremendous win in Houston this season. Subsequent to that event he has six top 25’s in seven starts, including sustained contention at this year’s Shinnecock experience. He is seventh in bogey avoidance on the PGA Tour, highlighting the eradication of the sillier errors that befall him. He is putting brilliantly and has excellent course history. 12 cuts out of 12 and a 25% top five conversion record make 22/1 look very attractive this week.

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Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets.net

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