The European Tour travels to Versailles this week for the Alstom Open de France. An impressive field, including four of the World’s top-10 and defending champion Martin Kaymer, will assemble at Le Golf National Paris.
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 French Open has been a fixture on the European Tour schedule since 1972. It’s one of the most prestigious titles on the circuit and now one of the richest. It’s been won by Seve Ballesteros, Nick Faldo, Greg Norman and Colin Montgomerie amongst others.
Last season Martin Kaymer came through a playoff against Lee Westwood to take his third European Tour title. The German went on to win a fourth the following week at the Barclays Scottish Open.
“To beat Lee in the play-off to win the French Open was among the highlights of my career,” said Kaymer. “When I think about it now it actually gives me more satisfaction because Lee has since gone on to show that he is one of the very best players in the world.”
Both Kaymer and Westwood will tee it up again this week. Three more Brits currently in the top-10 on the Official World Golf Ranking (Rory McIlroy, Ian Poulter and Luke Donald) will join them.
Jose Maria Olazabal will make his first competitive start since October and there will be further Major champions on the start sheet in Angel Cabrera, Paul Lawrie, Michael Campbell and Geoff Ogilvy.
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 18th time the course has been used as the venue for the Open de France.
Venue: Le Golf National, Paris, France
Date: Jul 1-4
Course stats: par 72, 7,023 yards
Purse: €3,000,000 Winner: €500,000
Defending Champion: Martin Kaymer (-13)
Thursday 1 – Live on Sky Sports 3 from 9.30am
Friday 2 – Live on Sky Sports 3 from 9.30am
Saturday 3 – Live on Sky Sports 3 from 1pm
Sunday 4 – Live on Sky Sports 3 from 12pm
There are some big names in the field: Westwood, Donald, McIlroy, Poulter and Kaymer. But, who else might feature?
Ross Fisher – The Englishman was second last week in the BMW International Open and looks to be coming back into form. He’s a streaky player and is a force to contend with when he’s on his game.
Gregory Havret – Will be on a high after his fantastic second place finish in the US Open at Pebble Beach. He’d love to pick up his national title.
Paul Lawrie – The 1999 Open Champion has a solid record in this event and has been close to a good four-round performance in his last few European Tour starts. If he can eliminate the errors, he could well contend here.
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. Anyone requiring par to win upon reaching this hole will have their work cut out.
Skills required: Ball striking. A number of holes demand long carries over water and often a shot straying off line will find a watery grave.