French Open guide
A preview and best bets for this week's Alstom French Open at Le Golf National near Paris.
By Dave Tindall
Last Updated: 02/07/13 5:01pm
Le Golf National is once again the location for one of the oldest tournaments on the European Tour.
Situated approximately 20 miles south-west of Paris, and opened 23 years ago, the stadium-style course is hosting the event for the 12th season in a row - and 21st time in all.
Undulating, with a substantial amount of water and sand, Le Golf National is a challenging 7,331-yard par 71 and in 2018 will stage the Ryder Cup.
The French Open, long considered one of the most prestigious events in continental Europe, was first held in 1906.
Luke Donald (14/1): This is only Donald's second start at Le Golf National although there were some encouraging signs on his first visit in 2010. Luke improved from 30th after round one to fourth with a round to go but a closing 72 left him in 11th. The final round was also Donald's problem in the recent US Open when it looked, for a time, if he would finally win a first major. His Sunday 75 left him in eighth and this will be his first start since of a so far winless 2013.
Martin Kaymer (14/1): "I consider it a golf course that I really like, and it suits my eye. I have fantastic memories from this championship," says Kaymer of Le Golf National. His record shows a win in 2009, a fourth in 2011, a sixth in 2010 and a seventh on debut in 2007. He also won a Challenge Tour event in France in 2006 so he really does enjoy the country. His last four starts include a fifth in the Byron Nelson and a fourth in the BMW International Open so he's coming back in to form.
Matt Kuchar (16/1): It's a shame that more Americans don't play here given it's proximity to The Open Championship. Kuchar has taken the plunge though and has to be heavily respected. Although he was only 28th at the US Open, prior to that he'd won the prestigious Memorial Tournament and before that was runner-up at Colonial. Also a winner of the WGC-World Matchplay, Kuchar has finished 9th at Lytham and 10th in the Scottish Open in two of his last three starts on European soil.
Graeme McDowell (25/1): It's now three missed cuts in a row for G-Mac (the first time that's happened to him since 2007) after he failed to make the weekend in the Irish Open by a single shot. Bizarrely, before that run he'd won twice in three starts (Volvo World Match Play Championship and The Heritage) so it's hard to get a handle on him at the moment. His record at Le Golf National is also hit-and-miss. He's played seven times, missed the cut on three occasions but finished 4th (2004), 13th (2008), 17th (2012) and 18th (2003) in the other four.
Matteo Manassero (25/1): The young Italian was disappointed to miss the cut at the US Open just two weeks after he'd scored the biggest win of his career by landing the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth. He topped the putting stats when finished 22nd in the BMW International Open in Germany on his last start and will now be looking for a big showing in this event. His form at Le Golf National reads 26-30-17 but he's shot a 65 and a 66 in that spell so can certainly score well on the track.
Ian Poulter (25/1): Poulter has plenty of history at Le Golf National and not all good. Still hopeful of winning the 2009 event, Poults pushed his approach into the water at 15 and later blasted the cameraman who had clicked three times on his downswing. However, he didn't carry out his threat not to return and was 18th the following year and also fourth last year. Overall he has three top fours and a ninth in the last six years while he made a strong showing for two rounds at the US Open. There's plenty to like about his chances.
SELECTED PLAYERS with GOOD to REASONABLE FORM at LE GOLF NATIONAL
Last Eight Years
Player: '05 / '06 / '07 / '08 / '09 / '10 / '11 / '12
Thomas Bjorn: - / MC / 3 / MC / 58 / 18 / 57 / -
Gregory Bourdy: MC / 54 / 19 / 39 / 70 / 6 / MC / MC
Michael Campbell: - / 3 / 33 / - / MC / 79 / 60 / 11
Alejandro Canizares: - / - / MC / 30 / 13 / 2 / 47 / MC
Robert-Jan Derksen: 21 / MC / 12 / MC / 37 / 16 / 37 / 40
Jamie Donaldson: - / MC / - / 21 / 60 / MC / 21 / MC
Bradley Dredge: 8 / 17 / 10 / MC / MC / 51 / 15 / MC
Richard Finch: 4 / 48 / 23 / MC / MC / 26 / MC / MC
Mark Foster: 68 / 21 / 15 / MC / 42 / 6 / 2 / 28
Ignacio Garrido: 17 / MC / Dq / 13 / 50 / 60 / 15 / 47
Richard Green: - / 7 / MC / 4 / 6 / 32 / 11 / Ret
Anders Hansen: 8 / 6 / MC / MC / 4 / 26 / 30 / 11
Soren Hansen: 3 / 66 / 2 / 3 / 6 / MC / MC / -
Gregory Havret: 4 / MC / 15 / 53 / MC / MC / 21 / 40
Thongchai Jaidee: - / MC / MC / 36 / 31 / MC / 26 / 15
Miguel Angel Jimenez: 55 / MC / MC / 66 / 25 / Won / MC / MC
Martin Kaymer: - / - / 7 / MC / Won / 6 / 4 / 70
Simon Khan: - / 12 / 3 / MC / MC / - / 5 / MC
Soren Kjeldsen: 26 / 12 / 21 / 7 / 13 / 26 / MC / 9
Jose Manuel Lara: 26 / 40 / Ret / 45 / 25 / MC / 30 / MC
Pablo Larrazabal: - / - / - / Won / 31 / MC / MC / 61
Peter Lawrie: 68 / 40 / 42 / 26 / 21 / 42 / 21 / 53
Thomas Levet: 68 / MC / 58 / 30 / 69 / MC / Won / MC
David Lynn: 17 / 37 / 10 / 26 / 42 / 32 / 54 / 4
Matteo Manassero: - / - / - / - / - / 26 / 30 / 17
Graeme McDowell: - / MC / MC / 13 / MC / - / - / 17
Damien McGrane: MC / MC / 3 / MC / 13 / 11 / Dq / MC
Francesco Molinari: 26 / 21 / MC / 13 / 25 / 2 / MC / 2
James Morrison: - / - / - / - / - / MC / 7 / 31
Jose Maria Olazabal: 8 / 10 / - / - / 54 / MC / - / 28
Thorbjorn Olesen: - / - / - / - / - / - / 2 / MC
Hennie Otto: - / - / - / 7 / 74 / 65 / 7 / Wd
Ian Poulter: - / 3 / 9 / 30 / 3 / 18 / - / 4
Marcel Siem: 21 / 72 / 66 / - / Wd / 18 / 52 / Won
Jeev Milkha Singh: - / - / 12 / 21 / MC / 16 / 43 / 46
Richard Sterne: 13 / MC / 25 / MC / 37 / - / - / 31
Graeme Storm: MC / 21 / Won / 21 / 13 / 11 / 11 / MC
SELECTED PLAYERS with POOR to MEDIOCRE FORM at LE GOLF NATIONAL
Last Eight Years(No Top-35 Finishes from three or more starts since 2005)
Player: '05 / '06 / '07 / '08 / '09 / '10 / '11 / '12
Thomas Aiken: - / - / - / - / - / 74 / MC / 54
Fredrik Andersson: MC / - / - / MC / - / - / MC / MC
Gary Boyd: - / - / - / - / - / MC / MC / 37
Rafael Cabrera-Bello: - / - / MC / - / MC / 69 / MC / 57
Christian Cevaer: MC / MC / 42 / MC / - / 56 / MC / -
SSP Chowrasia: - / - / - / MC / 76 / MC / MC / MC
Victor Dubuisson: MC / - / - / - / - / 56 / 57 / MC
Simon Dyson: - / 60 / 59 / 39 / MC / MC / MC / MC
Ross Fisher: - / 48 / MC / 64 / - / MC / - / -
Tano Goya: - / - / - / - / MC / MC / MC / MC
Mikko Ilonen: MC / - / - / 53 / MC / - / - / 54
Alexandre Kaleka: - / 48 / - / - / - / - / MC / MC
James Kingston: 64 / 65 / MC / MC / 60 / 48 / MC / MC
Sam Little: MC / MC / - / MC / 76 / MC / - / MC
Gary Lockerbie: - / - / 63 / - / 37 / Wd / - / -
Joost Luiten: - / - / - / - / - / 42 / MC / 47
Mikael Lundberg: - / MC / - / 48 / MC / MC / - / MC
Richard McEvoy: - / MC / - / - / - / MC / MC / MC
Edoardo Molinari: - / - / - / MC / - / 42 / 43 / -
Gary Orr: - / 59 / Ret / MC / 37 / - / MC / -
Julien Quesne: - / - / MC / MC / - / MC / - / MC
Brett Rumford: 81 / MC / MC / - / MC / 74 / MC / MC
Lee Slattery: MC / - / MC / - / MC / - / MC / -
Simon Wakefield: 50 / 40 / MC / MC / MC / - / - / -
Martin Wiegele: - / - / - / 45 / - / MC / 43 / -
Chris Wood: - / - / - / - / - / 65 / 37 / MC
Fabrizio Zanotti: - / - / - / MC / MC / 48 / MC / 40
TOP-10 Finishers at LE GOLF NATIONAL in 2012 (Not Already Listed Above)
Raphael Jacquelin: (3rd)
David Howell: (T-4th)
LOWEST 15 STROKE AVERAGES at LE GOLF NATIONAL
(Last Four Years - 2009/12)
69.42: Ian Poulter (12)
70.00: Francesco Molinari (14)
70.31: Mark Foster (16)
70.38: Anders Hansen (16)
70.43: Soren Kjeldsen (14)
70.46: Richard Green (13)
70.50: Martin Kaymer (16)
70.50: Graeme Storm (14)
70.71: Alejandro Canizares (14)
70.71: Raphael Jacquelin (14)
70.75: Paul Lawrie (8)
71.07: Steve Webster (14)
71.08: Matteo Manassero (12)
71.10: Damien McGrane (10)
71.13: David Lynn (16)
Min. No. of Rounds = 8
LOWEST ROUNDS at LE GOLF NATIONAL SINCE 2000
62: Eduardo Romero (2005)
62: Martin Kaymer (2009)
63: John Bickerton (2006)
63: Shiv Kapur (2008)
63: Robert-Jan Derksen (2010)
63: Mark Foster (2010)
64: Nine times
Note: The lowest tournament round prior to 2000 was 63 by four players - Paul Broadhurst (1995), Paul McGinley (1996), Miles Tunnicliffe (1996) and Steve Richardson (1996).
Le Golf National: Par 71; 7,347 yards
Winning Totals (Last Three Years):
2012: 276 (Marcel Siem)
2011: 277 (Thomas Levet)
2010: 273 (Miguel Angel Jimenez)
With the 2018 Ryder Cup venue hosting this week's event, it could well pay to get two of Europe's 2012 heroes onside.
But it's not just the sparking of memories from Medinah that draws me to Martin Kaymer and Ian Poulter - they are big fans of Le Golf National too.
Looking at stroke averages at this venue for the last four years and Poulter is top with 69.42 while Kaymer is ranked seventh.
Poulter is a player who probably needs to keep the car running to play his best so the fact that he's been in action for six of the last eight weeks suggests he's ready to thrive.
Kaymer has dropped enough hints in recent weeks so, back on one of his favourite courses, this could be his turn again.
Justin Rose and Graeme McDowell have both scored victories in the last couple of months so maybe Olazabal's heroes (and perhaps even the skipper himself) are hitting their straps again after a bit of an adrenalin comedown at the start of 2013.
The other player I like is Raphael Jacquelin.
France isn't exactly the most powerful golf nation in the world but home players have won this event in three of the last nine years.
Jacquelin is the highest ranked of the local contingent and is playing the best golf too.
He won the Spanish Open in April and has been seen on plenty of leaderboards since.
The putts are dropping and his third place in this event last year will have planted the seed that he can win here.
It took Thomas Levet 24 starts in his home Open before he won it so Jacquelin can repeat the feat on his 17th appearance.
3pts win Martin Kaymer at 14/1
2pts e.w. Ian Poulter at 25/1 (1/4 1,2,3,4,5)
1.5pts e.w. Raphael Jacquelin at 50/1 (1/4 1,2,3,4,5).