This week on the European Tour we are in France for the Alstom Open De France, at the course that will host the 2018 Ryder Cup, Le Golf National. This will not only be a fantastic insight on what the players can expect in 5 years time, which might be why Matt Kuchar has made the journey across the pond this week, but it will also be a fantastic tournament in it’s own right. The Le Golf National has been the host venue for this event every year since 1991, apart from in 1999 and 2001, so course form will be easier to find this time out, compared to last weeks Irish Open.
The market leaders for this event are joint favourites, World No.8 Luke Donald and Two-time major winner Martin Kaymer, who both come into this week at 14/1. Just behind them is World No.5 Matt Kuchar who has been in incredible form over the past two years, especially this season where he was already won two events, the WGC World Match-Play and the Memorial Tournament on the PGA Tour, so he will certainly pose a threat to the European Tour regulars this week. Of the three mentioned, Martin Kaymer has the most obvious history in the event, winning it back in 2009, and he will be looking to get his season back on track with a good week here in Paris. In the last four editions of this event, there have been two players to win by 1 stroke, Marcel Siem in 2012 & Thomas Levet in 2011, and two by way of play-off, when Miguel Angel Jimenez saw off fellow countryman Alejandro Canizares and Fransesco Molinari in 2010, and Martin Kaymer who beat Lee Westwood back in 2009. This suggests that the tournament this week should be incredibly competitive and no one player should blitz the field. Of course there is always the possibility of an abnormality in any tournament so you cannot rule out someone taking charge and running away from the field, I do however believe it will be as close as it has been in recent years, and with the quality of the past winners I fully expect the cream to rise to the top again this week. Let’s look at the course, and what players will have to bear in mind to get it done here in the Open De France.
The Course: Le Golf National, 7,331 yards, Par 71. This course is considered by many Tour pros as one of the best on the European Schedule, and has an inland-links kind of feel to it. With it’s premium greens and undulating fairways, it also has it’s fair share of hazards along the way. The course is dotted with bunkers, and also features both large and small water hazards that certainly come into play. Greens in Regulation and Putting will be the key stats I’ll be looking at this week, and although these are important almost every week, I think an emphasis can be put on it here on a premium golf course.
With everything in mind I will be looking to find value this week, which is made easier by the strong players in the top of the market. With Luke Donald, Martin Kaymer and Matt Kuchar all coming in as hot favourites I will be looking to oppose them with players, that had these three not been in the field here in Paris may well of been a lot shorter this week. The European Tour has been a happy hunting ground for us this year, with three winners and a bunch of top 5s found already, and I’m confident yet again with my selections here. These are my four picks for the 2013 Open De France.
Ian Poulter 25/1 (BetVictor 1-6) (General) 2pts e/w: Ian Poulter has had a very up and down season so far, and has yet to really find his form, however returning to Europe this week may just of come at exactly the right time. This event has been kind to Poulter in recent years, and he certainly seems comfortable playing in Paris, made clear by his three top-4 finishes so far in his Open De France career. He finished T4 here last year, T18 before that in 2010 and 3rd back in 2009 so he certainly warrants being at the top of the betting this week. Although he has struggled to get going so far on the PGA Tour, he really can excel back in Europe, where he has won 10 times, 12 if you include his WGC wins and he has the pedigree to challenge this field. When he is on form his Putting is one of his best attributes and I fully expect him to find some form this week. He will certainly look to this event to get his season going, and I it looks to be one of his best opportunities of getting a win this year. At 25/1 he may seem short considering his somewhat poor start to the season, but his course form cannot be ignored and he may just find comfort returning to a happy stomping ground.
Raphael Jacquelin 55/1 (Bet365) 50/1 (StanJames 1-6) 1.5pts e/w: Jacquelin has gone through spells of fine form on Tour this year, highlighted by the fact he’s missed just three cuts all season. He already has a win this season, when he beat Felipe Aguilar and Maximillian Kieffer in a play off at the Open De Espana back in April. The play off eventually went to 9 extra holes when Jacquelin finally saw off Kieffer and since then he’s played some fantastic golf. He missed the cut the very next week at the Ballentine’s but bounced back to finish T14 at the Volvo China Open and then T24 at Wentworth three weeks later. Since Wentworth he missed his 3rd cut of the year at the Nordea Masters, came T46 at the BMW International Open and finally T22 at the Irish Open last week, so his good results outweigh the bad. Returning to his homeland of France this week, he will certainly look to draw confidence from his good form this year at a course he plays well, with this in mind I certainly want him on side this week. His last four results at this event are 3rd, MC, 18th and T50, so although he missed the cut in 2011 and placed just 50th back in 2009 it certainly looks like he knows his way round Le Golf National. Although he is not excelling in either Greens in Regulation or Putting, neither are weaker parts of his game, and bearing in mind his past results here I certainly couldn’t find enough reasons to rule him out. At 55/1 he looks great value and I fully expect him to feature come Sunday.
Alejandro Canizares 80/1 (BetVictor 1-6) (General) 1pt e/w: I tipped Canizares back in April for his home event, the Open De Espana, where he failed to impress, coming T56 however since then he has played some really nice golf, and because of that I’m ready to back him once again. Not only is he starting to find form in recent weeks, with a T4 at Wentworth, a T27 at the Nordea Masters and again last week with a T10 at the Irish Open but he also boasts impressive form at the Le Golf National when losing in a play off back in 2010 and a T13 the year before that. Going into this event in 2010, he had a T9 at the BMW International Open, so with his T10 at the Irish Open last week, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him go well again. He is 35th in Putts per GIR meaning that when he’s finding the greens in regulation he’s tending to convert well with his Putter, and that could be important this week. With his past form in this event coupled with some of his most impressive golf of his career being played in 2013 I really think he has a good shot here, and at 80/1 the Spaniard seems good value. He only has one win in his career, going back the Russian Open in 2006 and he will be keen to get himself back in the winners circle here.
Gregory Bourdy 100/1 (Coral) 1pt e/w: I had Bourdy in mind ever since watching him in the final round at Wentworth, and this week appealed to me as soon as I saw it coming up. When looking at his past form I was a little surprised to see that he hasn’t really excelled here, considering it’s in his home country, but he has done enough to persuade me to go with him this week, at what I think is a fantastic price. Bourdy came T6 here back in 2010 but has since missed two cuts in consecutive years and that is a disappointment, but he has shown glimpses of good form this season and that;s why I’m happy to side with him. Before coming T6 in 2010, he did have a top-20 in 2007 so he can play the course and I’m hoping he can find something here again this week. He is 31st in Greens in Regulation and this is another factor in going with him, this alongside his 8th at the Lyoness Open, T12 at Wentworth, T11 in the Malaysian Open and T2 in the Africa Open I really do think he’s overpriced and hopefully he proves me right this week. If nothing else Bourdy is a value loser in his home event, and in my opinion is definitely one to consider.
Points staked on European Tour this week: 11
Total Points staked this week (inc PGA Tour: 20
Profit/Loss for 2013: 125.9
The European Tour has been good to us this year, and I certainly think this week in France could continue that trend, as it’s been a while since I’ve had 4 picks I feel so strongly about. This is a great event this week and I’m really looking forward to it, good luck with your bets this week and be sure to follow me on Twitter @TomJacobs8