Will I ever call Westwood right again? Placed 16th at Pebble Beach was hardly a disaster, but he never even threatened to get us a place return. The world’s third best player is very much the one to beat here, having already finished top six at Le Golf National on three occasions, including last year’s play-off defeat. Odds of 11/1 is probably a fair enough price, but I’d rather look elsewhere for some each-way value.
Again, while I’m looking elsewhere, there are no holes to be made in Donald’s claims beyond, I suppose, a poor win ratio. All recent efforts in Europe produced top-three finishes, in addition to solid figures across the Atlantic. This accuracy-orientated course should be perfect, too.
I’m very tempted to stick with last week’s selection, as Schwartzel remains a winner in waiting. He’s made the top 15 on his last couple of visits to Paris, so certainly warrants a place on any shortlist. Nevertheless, I still doubt whether this layout suits him as well as last week’s in Germany, or Loch Lomond next week for that matter.
Rory remains very much on my shortlist for the forthcoming Open Championship, but has struggled for consistency on the PGA Tour. His win at Quail Hollow is arguably the performance of the year, and tenth at the Memorial also promised plenty. Apart from those two efforts, though, he hasn’t made a top ten since the Gulf Swing at the start of the year. Perhaps the return to Europe will make the difference.
With a good record at this course, mostly recorded before his marked improvement over the last couple of years, Poulter is very tempting at 28/1. The problem is that all five of Ian’s performances since the Masters have been very disappointing.
The presence of this former US Open champion adds further class to proceedings. We can easily ignore a failure here ten years ago, long before the Aussie became a world star. However, Ogilvy hasn’t been at his best for months, since taking time off for the birth of his child.
On the basis of five top threes, including one win, during this remarkable rookie season, Davies deserves consideration every time he tees it up. I’m not entirely convinced that this accuracy test, which tends to favour more experienced players, will bring out his best, but then I wouldn’t have said that about Larrazabal either.
Scott is another world-class Aussie making a rare European appearance. Again though, he hasn’t been at his best this year, apart from when winning for us in Texas.
Is Bjorn back? He was outstanding when winning the Estoril Open, and as an experienced player who finished third in 2007, he ticks more than one box.
It was nice to see Ross back to form in Germany, even if his final day performance was hardly convincing. The fact he finished outside the top 40 on all three previous visits to Paris, adds to a suspicion that this isn’t really his ideal layout.
As an experienced, accurate, in-form player, who was fourth on this course last year, Hanson ticks all the right boxes. If he had an earlier tee time, he would almost certainly have made the staking plan.
Le Golf National looks the ideal layout for the accurate Italian, so his failure to make a top ten in five visits to date comes as something of a surprise. On closer inspection, three top 25s actually reads a little better, so I suspect he’ll enjoy a typically lucrative week without winning.
Edoardo remains very much on my short-list after another excellent effort in the States, spending three days on the fringes of contention at Pebble Beach. Most of his form over the past nine months reads well in any company, and the only deterrant this week is an absence of meaningful course experience.
After finishing runner-up as a totally unconsidered US Open outsider, Havret deserves a hero’s welcome, and with so many of his countrymen lacking any positive course form, he could be the best bet for a home winner. At least he finished fourth in 2005, much better than anything Raphael Jacquelin or Thomas Levet have ever managed.
Second place at the recent St Jude Classic shows one can never write off a class act like Karlsson, but he has been very inconsistent this year. The fact he’s never made the top ten here suggests this won’t be one of the good weeks.
Few if any fit the ‘course specialist’ tag better than Soren, who has six top tens to his name at Le Golf National, finishing no worse than sixth in last three renewals. The Dane has been off the boil recently though, and played very poorly at the US Open last time.
Willett’s golf in Germany was fair enough when carrying our cash, even if he never got to the leaders. Top 15s on both visits to date confirm that he has the game to thrive here.
If ever there was a track to back this very rare winner, it is probably Le Golf National. He’s finished top,seven in four of his last five visits, and must make the shortlist after finishing a good second to Bjorn in Estoril.