A strong field will tee it up at Le Golf National in Paris this week for the Alstom Open de France. Graeme McDowell is looking for a third straight victory in the event.

Lowdown:
A strong field will tee it up at Le Golf National in Paris this week for the Alstom Open de France. Graeme McDowell is looking for a third straight victory in the event.

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, Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell overcame an eight shot deficit to pass Kevin Stadler of the USA and win by a stroke. The American missed a succession of short putts including a two-footer on the final green that would have forced a playoff.

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

As such, the event attracts some of Europe’s best players. Defending champion Graeme McDowell is on the start sheet, so too are Martin Kaymer, Lee Westwood and Jamie Donaldson.

The home nation will be well represented and the fans will be hoping for a French champion. Thomas Levet was the last home winner. He achieved that feat in 2011 and then broke his leg jumping into a water hazard in celebration.

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 23rd time the course has been used as the venue for the Open de France. In 2018 the layout will play host to the Ryder Cup.

It’s extremely hot in Paris at the moment and that looks set to continue this week. Temperatures could reach the high 30s centigrade and there could be a thunderstorm or two to contend with.

Venue: Le Golf National, Paris, France
Date: Jul 2-5
Course stats: par 71, 7,331 yards
Purse: €3,000,000 Winner: €500,000
Defending Champion: Graeme McDowell (-5)

TV Coverage:
Thursday 2 – Sky Sports 4 from 9.30am
Friday 3 – Sky Sports 4 from 9.30am
Saturday 4 – Sky Sports 4 from 1pm
Sunday 5 – Sky Sports 4 from 12pm

Player watch:
Thongchai Jaidee – He was tied 11th last week in Germany and played well at both Wentworth and Royal County Down in the BMW PGA and the Irish Open. He was tied second in this event last year.

Michael Hoey – The Northern Irishman finished in a tie for 7th in last week’s BMW International Open and was also seventh in last year’s French Open.

Gary Stal – The home player was a winner in Abu Dhabi earlier this year, he finished in the top-10 in Austria and would have been a feature last week in Munich if not for a poor final round. He finished top-20 in this event last year.

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.