Overview and Betting market
It's the 100th anniversary of the Open De France and to mark it's Centenary year, the prizepool has been upped, bonus Ryder Cup points are on offer and the tournament counts as two events played towards European Tour eligibility criteria. In part this is really down to a clash with the WGC Bridgestone Invitational which has moved slots in the schedule due to the Olympics. The European Tour which co-sanctions the WGC event has pulled out for the 2016 edition. Much ado about nothing you may feel as all the big names are withdrawing from the Olympics, conveniently citing the Zika Virus as the reason.
Le Golf National is the venue for the Open De France and extensive renovations have already begun ahead of the 2018 Ryder Cup which is to be held here. This is one of the best courses on the European Tour - annually ranked in the top 100 courses in the world - and it's hardly surprising that most of the big name Europeans are making the trip given the circumstances this year. Rory McIlroy - 5.50 - won at Firestone in 2014 but will tee it up in France this week for the aforementioned reasons as well as fine tuning his prep for the Open Championship in 2 weeks. Masters Champion Danny Willett - 21.00 - has lost a little bit of form in recent weeks but looks to put that right here. Course specialist Martin Kaymer is second in the betting at 15.00.
Course features and premiums - Le Golf National
Now playing circa 7,250 yards to a par 71, the exposed Le Golf National is a links-style track in areas, with brown wispy rough and bush awaiting the errant, while linksy pot bunkers guard undulating greens. The surfaces are usually fast and firm - prepped towards 13' on the stimp. Some are equipped with run offs and others have mound surround. 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. Scrambling will prove difficult for players missing greens and the leading scores are generally single digits under par. Water features on a number of holes and if your ball striking is not on point, you'll find it.
Open De France Best Betting Tips
Graeme McDowell - 19.00 or 4.75 - is your typical horses for courses player this week, emphasised by back to back French Open wins in 2013/14. A missed cut last year can be written off as Graeme was adapting to a new family and home life. Gmac is finding his best form again though, with a T9 at the Players and a top 20 recorded at Oakmont a fortnight ago.The Irishman relishes tough tests, with his driving and scrambling ability being his main assets, along with a strong mental game. McDowell ranks 7th in driving accuracy and 45th in scrambling despite a mediocre 2016 so far on the whole. In top form back in in 2014, he led the PGA tour in strokes gained putting and he loves the fast greens here in France.
Francesco Molinari - 21.00 or 5.00 has been plying his trade on the PGA Tour of late but unlike many other European Tour players that have tried their luck on the other side of the pond in recent years, it's working out well for the Italian. Molinari signed for a 65 to record a T8 finish at Congressional last week and this added to recent top 10s at the prestigious Arnold Palmer Invitational and Players championship events. Molinari is a flusher ranking 22nd in strokes gained tee to green on the PGA Tour 2016 so it's hardly a surprise then when I tell you he owns a couple of runner up finishes at the Open DE France. He closed with a 64 in 2012 to narrowly lose out to Marcel Siem. Overall, Francesco has only finished outside the top 30 twice in 11 tries in France, both Mcs.
Thongchai Jaidee - 61.00 or 13.00 - was runner up to McDowell in 2014 here and can be classed as a bit of a course specialist. As I mentioned in my preview of the BMW International last week he often comes good at this time of year. Jaidee actually opened at 26.00 for the Open De France 2015 and went on to record another top 10. Add 26th and 15th finishes to sandwich a MC in his last five appearances at Le Golf National. At the moment Jaidee is simmering with a form line of 31-52-38 but a return to this track may be the spark he needs.
Keep an eye on Graeme Storm - 151.0 or 31.00 - this week who likes a fast start in France. Storm recorded a top 10 out of nowhere last week in Germany and has standout form on the Le Golf National track. The Englishman has a mountain of top 25s here and was a winner of the event back in 2007. Most recently his form at Le Golf National reads 3-mc-33.