The European Tour travels to Paris this week for the Alstom Open de France at Le Golf National. Graeme McDowell defends the title over the course that will play host to the 2018 Ryder Cup.

Lowdown:
The European Tour travels to Paris this week for the Alstom Open de France at Le Golf National. Graeme McDowell defends the title over the course that will play host to the 2018 Ryder Cup.

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 and to accrue Ryder Cup points.

As such, the event attracts some of Europe’s best players. Defending champion Graeme McDowell will tee it up, so too will U.S. Open champion Martin Kaymer, current Race to Dubai leader Thomas Bjorn and home favourite Victor Dubuisson.

When Dubuisson competed in this event back in 2005 as a 15-year-old he was, at that time, the youngest player to compete in a European Tour event.

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 22nd 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, Graeme McDowell produced a closing round of 67 to finish four shots clear of South Africa’s Richard Sterne. The victory pushed the Northern Irishman to sixth on the Official World Golf Ranking.

The weather forecast for this week looks unsettled with rain a possibility on Friday and over the weekend.

Venue: Le Golf National, Paris, France
Date: Jul 3-6
Course stats: par 71, 7,331 yards
Purse: €3,000,000 Winner: €500,000
Defending Champion: Graeme McDowell (-9)

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

Player Watch:
Rafa Cabrera-Bello – He lost out in a playoff for the BMW International Open and he has been on extremely consistent form this season. He now has six top-10 finishes from 13 starts.

Brooks Koepka – The itinerant American has proved himself on both sides of the Atlantic this year. He was tied third in the Dubai Desert Classic and tied fourth at the U.S. Open. Next step on the career path is a significant victory – this could be the week.

Gregory Havret – Another man who lost out in the playoff for the BMW International Open last week, the Frenchman looked to be back to something approaching his best form. He’ll hope to continue his good play in front of a home crowd.

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.