Open de France 2014: A preview and best bets for Le Golf National near Paris
By Dave Tindall. Last Updated: 01/07/14 11:18pm
Graeme McDowell on the way to victory last year
Le Golf National is once again the location for this week's Open de France - one of the oldest tournaments on the European Tour.
Situated approximately 20 miles south-west of Paris, and opened 24 years ago, the stadium-style course is hosting the event for the 13th season in a row - and 22nd time in all.
Undulating, with a substantial amount of water and sand, Le Golf National is a challenging 7,331-yard par 71 and in 2018 will stage the Ryder Cup.
The Open de France, long considered one of the most prestigious events in continental Europe, was first held in 1906 and this will be its 98th edition.
Recent US Open winner Martin Kaymer is the clear 8/1 favourite despite his surprise missed cut in Germany last week while defending champion Graeme McDowell is next at 12/1. G-Mac is coming off a tied sixth in the Irish Open where a cold putter wrecked his victory hopes.
Last 10 winners
The French have a good record in their home Open with three winners in the last 10 years. Jean-Francois Remesy won back-to-back titles in 2004/2005 while Thomas Levet captured the title in 2011. The last decade has also seen two Spanish winners (Miguel Angel Jimenez 2010, Pablo Larrazabal 2008), two Germans (Marcel Siem 2012, Martin Kaymer 2009) and two Englishmen (Graeme Storm 2007, John Bickerton 2006). Last year Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell took the title after a four-shot win over South African Richard Sterne.
The last three editions of the Open de France have been won with single digits under par. Thomas Levet triumphed with -7 in 2011, Marcel Siem posted -8 in 2012 while McDowell shot -9 to win last year.
Key to victory
McDowell topped the Greens In Regulation stats (79.2%) when winning 12 months ago while 2012 champ Siem was third in that category in 2012, with GIR leader Francesco Molinari finishing runner-up. In 2011, winner Thomas Levet was third in GIR while in 2010 the two GIR leaders, Molinari and Rory McIlroy, finished second and fourth respectively while winner Jimenez was 11th. The pattern is clear then. Hitting lots of greens is the recipe for success.
Top 10 on 2014 GIR stats
1 Thomas Aiken, 2 Magnus A Carlsson, 3 Emiliano Grillo, 4 Paul Lawrie, 5 Rafa Cabrera-Bello, 6 Gregory Bourdy, 7 Felipe Aguilar, 8 Byeong-hun An, 9 Danny Willett, 10 Adilson Da Silva.
(Lawrie, An, Willett and Da Silva are not taking part this week).
Gregory Bourdy hasn't had the best time of it in his home Open but a sixth place in 2010 offers enough encouragement that he might be the next Frenchman to delight the home crowds.
Thomas Levet had a dreadful record in this event (five missed cuts and just one top 20 in his previous 12 attempts) before he found inspiration from somewhere to win it in 2011 so Bourdy could follow the same path.
Bourdy's last start produced a top 10 in the Irish Open while in May he ended a run of four straight top 20s with a sixth in Singapore so he's in pretty good nick.
Back the Frenchman to flourish at 50/1.
One place above him in that GIR list is Spain's Rafa Cabrera-Bello and he has strong credentials to become the third Spanish winner in the last seven years.
In his last three starts, he's ranked 3rd, 1st and 2nd in GIR so his iron play at the moment is fantastic.
A play-off loser in Germany last week - he traded at odds-on during extra holes - RCB's season is littered with top fives and 10s but is just missing a victory.
His course form isn't great but 29th last year gives him something to build on and helps us get 33/1 on one of the Tour's most in-form players.
Francesco Molinari is a two-time runner-up in this event and his play over the last few months all points to another serious crack at the title.
The Italian's second places came in 2010 and 2012 while he was also 18th last year.
He was 12th in Germany last week, 23rd in the US Open and seventh at Wentworth so it would be a surprise if he isn't right up there in one of his favourite events.
Finally, the 200/1 about Magnus A Carlsson is too tempting to pass up given that he's second in those GIR standings.
The Swede was sixth in Ireland two starts ago and even has a bit of course form too having finished 21st at Le Golf National in 2009.
1pt e.w. Gregory Bourdy at 50/1 (1/4 1,2,3,4,5)
1.5pts e.w. Rafa Cabrera-Bello at 33/1 (1/4 1,2,3,4,5)
2pts e.w. Francesco Molinari at 16/1 (1/4 1,2,3,4,5)
1pt e.w. Magnus A Carlsson at 200/1 (1/4 1,2,3,4,5)