European Tour - Alstom Open de France - 4-7 July 2013
Le Golf National, Paris, France
INTRODUCTION & HERITAGE
This is one of the true heritage events on tour, originating in 1906 and having been on the schedule since the European Tour's inception in 1972.
Recent champions at Le Golf National have been: Marcel Siem (2012), Thomas Levet (2011), Miguel Angel Jimenez (2010), Martin Kaymer (2009) & Pablo Larrazabal (2008). There have been only two dual winners here: Jean-Francois Remesy & Retief Goosen.
And, fortunately for course-form fans, as this is a place where course knowledge matters, the Open de France has been played at Le Golf National most years since 1991. All the recent winners, Larrazabal excepted, have served course apprenticeships, Augusta National-style, before securing their wins here.
as an interesting aside, by far the most successful nation in terms of producing winners at Le Golf National has been a country the French love to hate - England! There have been six different English winners here during the past 20 years and, even more interestingly, none of them was named: Westwood, Rose, Clark, Poulter, Donald, Willett, Dyson, Lynn, Rock, Khan, Webster, Wilson, Casey or Fisher!
The Albatross Course (the other courses there are named eagle & birdie!) at Le Golf National, close to Versailles just outside Paris, is a 7350yd par 71 that will host the 2018 Ryder Cup. The course has been described as an amalgam of Scottish links and US target golf design styles and it will certainly challenge the players' shotmaking this week. Recent winning scores have all been in the 7-under to 15-under range, averaging 10-under - so the course is clearly a solid test.
According to Golf365 it features: "slick greens and vast undulating fairways dotted with innumerable links bunkers, sand traps, large and small water hazards, fescue roughs, tree obstacles and the rigid slopes of its artificially-created sand mounds and .... an excellent test of a golfer's versatility, his correct choice of clubs and his shot-making capabilities and provides a unique experience of links-target golf."
Stats-wise, I'll be looking for good GIR guys this week who can putt on faster-than-usual European greens (if the weather forecast is sunny) who know the course well.
Also gotta pick out longer shot Englishman!
Early favouritism is shared between Martin Kaymer & Luke Donald at 15.00, followed by american visitor Kuchar at 17.00 then McDowell, Poulter, Manassero, Luiten & F Molinari all shorter than 30/1.
Given his lack of course knowledge, and lack of European success generally, I'm discounting Matt Kuchar this week.
Martin Kaymer, though a previous winner here, is too short-priced for a guy who hasn't won a Euro or PGA tournament since 2011.
Luke Donald has looked just a tad off his normally excellent putting game this year so also looks short-priced here.
GMac has had an enigmatic year with two wins along with a swag of missed cuts, including The Masters & US Open, and has MC'd 3 of his past 4 starts. So he's off the A-list too!
Noren, Luiten, Poulter & Molinari simply don't win often enough to justify their being priced this short.
My first selection is Richard Sterne. To me he looks to be approaching his best after spending 2011 out with injury and 2012 trying to rediscover his A-game.
He ranks 2nd on Tour in stroke average and was a solid 22nd in Ireland last week after a 5-week break. He represents each way value at 51.00.
My second selection is Mikko Ilonen each way, also at 51.00. It's been an emergent year for Finnish golfers thus far and Ilonen has led the way with a win at the Nordea Masters backed up with two 2nd's - in Morocco & China.
My next each way selection is attempting to pinpoint that longer shot Englishman who could become the 7th different Pommie winner in 21 years at Le Golf National. I've settled on Seve Benson whose name suggests his parents were hoping he'd become a golfer!
He's available at 176.00 - 201.00 around the bookies and having played the course twice, making the cut both times, he satisfies my course knowledge criteria. Also, his recent form has been solid with three top sevens (7th, 5th & 3rd) on the Challenge Tour and two placings in the 40's on the main tour in his past five starts. For those who think it's too big a leap of faith for a Challenge Tour guy to win a richer event on the main tour, have a look at him for a Top10 where he's 17.00 - 19.00 generally with the bookies.
My final selection has to be another Englishman, Robert Rock who beat Tiger & Rory down the stretch in Abu Dhabi in January 2012 and then simply fell into a hole! He'd been in mostly terrible form since until his 2nd placing in Ireland last week.
He's had plenty of course experience, albeit without any spectacular results, and if nearing his best is capable of giving this field a shake at a nice price in the 71.00 - 91.00 range with the bookies.
Cheers and good luck with your golf betting!
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