Golf betting: Four big-priced outsiders to consider backing in the Open De France


Open De France overview and betting market

It's Open De France week, meaning the countdown to the Open Championship is on. Le Golf National, host of the 2018 Ryder Cup, is a championship track that incorporates a number of links style holes and it's usually a decent test to tune up player's games ahead of the Open. A number of PGA based European pros usually make the trip back over our side of the pond around this time. This is peak time on the European Tour schedule with France followed by the Irish and Scottish Opens (three new Rolex Series events) all preceding the year's third major at Royal Birkdale.

The field is stellar. Twelve of the world's top 50 tee it up. The prizefund was upped for the centenary year in 2016 and eclipses that again in 2017 with $7million in the kitty. Some players will be looking to book a ticket to the Open Championship. Obviously, there's also an incentive for players to come over and sample the venue again for the Ryder Cup test ahead in 2018 but US guys have declined the opportunity this season.

It's only been a year or so for Jon Rahm in the pro ranks but he is a big European name that's taking the chance to come over and impress Captain Thomas Bjorn and indeed he leads the market at 13.00. Shane Lowry - 31.00, Lee Westwood - 41.00, Gmac, Russel Knox and Francesco Molinari - 15.00 - now three times second at Le Golf National - are some other notables to cross back over the water. Former winner Martin Kaymer - 23.00 - will look to put a missed cut in his native Germany behind him.

 

The course - Le Golf National:  7,250 yards, par 71


Le Golf National is a largely exposed, links-style track in areas, with some thick fibre and brown wispy rough / bush awaiting the errant tee balls. Linksy pot bunkers guard undulating greens and the surfaces are usually fast and firm - prepped towards 13' on the stimp. Some are equipped with run offs and others have mound surround with thick rough leaving tough up and downs. Accuracy and ball striking are key here with fairways and greens a premium. Landing areas are of average width but play narrower in spots due to undulations. Top short game ability is a prerequisite.

The leading scores here are generally single digits under par. Stadium style water holes feature at the start and end of the 18 and this sets the tournament up for dramatic swings. In 2016 the course was playing "fair" and soft / long in round one, getting firmer and windier as day went on according to Rory McIlroy, course specialist and two-time winner Graeme McDowell - 34.00, and Belgian bomber and Ryder Cupper Thomas Pieters - 26.00 - who opened with -4 last year.

 

Open De France best betting tips 

Matt Fitzpatrick - 34.00 or 7.50 - is a man who Le Golf National should really suit but he's missed the cut on each of his last two starts, following a top 30 on his debut here. Only narrowly though and his price looks to reflect the MCs. Fitzpatrick plays on a different level now and I expect he may be one to watch at Royal Birkdale in a few weeks. Matt notched a 12th place and a runner up finish in his last two starts in Europe and tees off here following a respectable T35 at Erin Hills for the US Open - arguably a venue that didn't really suit the Englishman. Fitzy is 33rd in driving accuracy and 2nd in strokes gained putting on the PGA Tour in 2017 so he should enjoy the slick surfaces in France.

He said: “It is great to return to Paris for the HNA Open DE France, It’s always a challenge when you play the Albatross course, but also fun at the same time. When you come down the final stretch, there are fans everywhere and the atmosphere is amazing, so I can’t wait to get out there again this year."


Thorbjorn Olesen - 71.00 or 15.00 - looks to be peaking at the perfect time. A two shot penalty on Friday in Germany seemed to impede the Dane and maybe Le Golf National isn't the best course for a guy whose weakness is the odd errant drive but the juicy price makes me want him onside. Despite a run of MCs and a WD, Olesen does have a runner up finish here at Le Golf National in 2011 - around the time he burst onto the scene - and he's been working hard on his driving of late. Thorbjorn's latest form reads T8 - T31 - MC - T4 - T34 on the European Tour and he looked set for a stronger challenge at the BMW International until the aforementioned penalty set him back a bit mentally.



Last but not least of the double figure picks is a guy who could be a real one to watch and that's Jeunghun Wang - 81.00 or 17.00 - who was just two strokes back off course specialist and eventual winner Thongchai Jaidee and T2 with Rory McIlroy last season at Le Golf National after 54 holes. Wang had a disappointing final round. The Korean is a short game specialist and if we look at his wins so far on Tour there's a bit of a theme.

He's won in Morocco, took down the Qatar Masters and also won in blustery Mauritius. All are tests requiring top ball striking and excellent short game skills in windy conditions, and having witnessed these victories, his play around the greens was exemplary. Jeunghun is 17th in putting in 2017 and was 7th in that category last year. He flies in under the radar off the back of a US Open missed cut but prior to that he was 8th at the Nordea Masters.

Richard Bland's (151.0 or 31.00) performance in Germany doesn't seem to negate a few missed cuts in France in terms of pricing this week but he does own a top 15 finish here in 2015 - despite an opening 76. Bland was a regular feature last season on European Tour Sunday's and final pairings and his all around game (question mark over putting) is largely the reason for that. He's been doing a lot of work with Tim Barter following an injury plagued first half of 2017 and was back to his best over the weekend. Bland recorded the most birdies on the European Tour in 2016 and by a distance. The Englishman was 34th in GIR and 11th in stroke average last season and confidence is high again after his runner up and narrow miss in Germany