Lowdown:
The European Tour travels across the Irish Sea and the English Channel this week for the Alstom Open de France at Le Golf National, outside Paris. Marcel Siem of Germany is defending champion.

A number of Europe’s best players are on the start sheet for this tournament, to be held on the course that will welcome the Ryder Cup in 2018.

A host of former Ryder Cup stars will tee it up this week. They include: Luke Donald, Martin Kaymer, Ian Poulter, Graeme McDowell, Paul Lawrie, Francesco Molinari and Thomas Bjorn.

Le Golf National was designed on flat farmland near the Palace of Versailles. The layout is the work of architect Hubert Chesneau and construction began in 1987. In 1990 the course was open for play. This will be the 21st time the course has been used as the venue for the Open de France.

The French Open is the oldest national open on continental Europe. It was first contested at La Boulie in 1906 and was won by home player Arnaud Massy. He took his national title three more times, lastly in 1925 when he was 48-years-old.

The tournament has been a fixture on the European Tour schedule since 1972. It’s one of the most prestigious events on the circuit and has been won by Seve Ballesteros, Nick Faldo, Greg Norman and Colin Montgomerie amongst others.

Last year, Germany’s Marcel Siem held off a charging Francesco Molinari to take the title by a single shot.

This is one of the richest tournaments on the European Tour with a purse of €3,000,000, and a winning prize of €500,000. It provides a good chance for players to make significant progress in the Race to Dubai.

The weather forecast for the week looks set to be fine and warm. There shouldn’t be any rain delays. Although rain may fall over the next couple of days, softening the course nicely – watch out then for low scoring.

Venue: Le Golf National, Paris, France
Date: Jul 4-7
Course stats: par 71, 7,331 yards
Purse: €3,000,000 Winner: €500,000
Defending Champion: Marcel Siem (-8)

TV Coverage:
Thursday 4 – Sky Sports 1 from 9.30am
Friday 5 – Sky Sports 1 from 9.30am
Saturday 6 – Sky Sports 3 from 1.30pm
Sunday 7 – Sky Sports 1 from 12pm

Player Watch:
Bernd Wiesberger – The Austrian was tied fourth two weeks ago in the BMW International Open. He has another couple of top-five finishes to his name this season and is yet to miss a cut on the circuit in 2013. He’s made the cut on his last two outings at Le Golf National.

Pablo Larrazabal – He was fourth last week in Ireland and he’s a former champion in this tournament, he was the winner back in 2008. He tends to produce a series of good results when he gets on a roll, so look out for him to shine again this week.

Thorbjorn Olesen – The Dane hasn’t played his best golf in recent weeks, but he’s phenomenally talented and has the ability to turn it round. He was runner-up in this event back in 2011.

Key hole:
18th. A 470 yard par 4 with water all down the left side for the tee shot. The approach must carry all the way to the putting surface over water. A player requiring par to win upon reaching this hole will have his work cut out.

Where next?
PGA Tour –
The Greenbrier Classic preview