It’s France’s turn to play host to a European Tour event and this week’s stop is the, Open De France. The country itself may well be on a high at the moment, due to their football team’s efforts so far in the world cup.
On to the more important stuff though, the golf. Le Golf National is the long-term host for this event, and it provides a suitable test for those wishing to get the win here, in Paris. A good ball-striking week will put players in good stead to contend here and a warm putter, although not vital, is always a bonus.
Last year’s winner, Graeme McDowell ranked 1st in Greens in Regulation and 15th in Driving Accuracy, so he struck the ball incredibly well and putted just well enough to get the win. He ranked 29th in Putts Per Gir and 31st in Putts Per Round, so whilst he didn’t lead the field he did put in a solid performance on the greens.
Distance once again is not really a factor here, with only two players inside the top-10 last year, ranking higher than 24th in Driving Distance. This is no great surprise as this 7,331, Par 71 layout is hardly the longest course on Tour.
Due to the nature of the test this week, I will be focusing my attention on those ranking highly in Greens in Regulation and Driving Accuracy. There are hazards on several holes, and whilst the fairways are of average width, players will want to avoid the water on holes 1, 2, 13, 15, 16 and 18, and leave themselves the right shot into the green.
Once again, Martin Kaymer heads the betting this week (9/1) and it’s clear why. Kaymer won this event back in 2009, beating Englishman, Lee Westwood in a play-off and has since continued his good form. He had two looks at the course before that win, finishing 7th on debut in 2007 and missing the cut in 2008, but since winning he has form figures of 6-4-70-13. The 70th in 2012 was his worst result since winning 3 years prior, and I don’t see him struggling this time around.
Amongst the others at the head of the betting are, 2013 champion Graeme McDowell (12/1), Francesco Molinari (18/1) and both Jamie Donaldson and Thomas Bjorn at 25/1.
Here are my picks for the 2014 Open de France.
Richard Green 66/1 (Bet365) 1pt e/w: Richard Green is my headline selection this week, and at 66/1 I think he is a very fair price.
Not only is the left-handed, Aussie in superb form, but he’s also got some very impressive course form here, to boot. Since 2002, he has two top-5’s and a further three top-7 finishes here, including his 6th place finish last year.
In his last five events, he has a runner-up finish at the Open De Espana, when he lost out on in a play-off to Miguel Angel Jimenez, which he followed up with a 16th place finish at the BMW PGA Championship, at Wentworth.
His form slipped in his next two events, finishing 40th at the Nordea Masters, and then missing the cut three weeks later, at the Irish Open.
His Nordea Masters finish isn’t as bad as it looked however, as he had three solid rounds, with his 3rd round 76 costing him another top week.
Green was back in form again last week, finishing 12th at the
Bmw International Open, which was largely down to his 3rd round, 62 (-10).
He is playing some of his best golf at the moment, and that coupled with his strong course form would suggest he’s in line for another good week.
His game suits the course, as he favours accuracy over length and that’s why he’s performed so well here in the last. He currently ranks in the top-25 in Driving Accuracy and if he plays as he has been recently he should hit his fair share of greens.
If he’s going to convert his good play into a win this season, this looks like one of the more likely places for him to do so.
Eduardo De La Riva 100/1 (Paddy Power & StanJames) 0.5pt e/w: Eduardo De La Riva is my second and final selection this week, and again I think he’s a good bet at 3-figures.
De La Riva came 3rd in his Open De France debut last season, and it’s easy to see why.
As aforementioned, I focused my attentions this week towards Greens in Regulation, and the Spaniard currently ranks 10th on the European Tour in that category. Not only that, but he also sits 18th in Driving Accuracy, so he’s having a good ball-striking season.
With a 3rd place finish here on his one and only visit to the course, plus his form in hitting fairways and greens, he looks in good shape to perform well here again.
Whilst he’s missed his last two cuts, he has shown some signs of form this season, with three finishes in the top-21 in recent weeks.
He came T10 at the Malaysian Open, and since has finished T21 at the Nordea Masters and T7 the following week at the Lyoness Open, so some weeks he’s putting it all together and I hope that he can have that sort of week here.
De La Riva has never won on the European Tour, and that’s always a worry, but we are seeing 1st time winners all the time in world golf at the moment, so I am happy to take my chances on him. He has won on the Challenge Tour, so he does at least have some experience of winning.
At 100/1 I thought he was definitely worth another look, and upon review I’ve decided he is a good bet this week. He will have good memories of the course, from last year and hopefully he can draw on those.
I have only had two picks this week, and although there are a few other players I like, the prices on offer didn’t really grab my attention.
I will update this post with profit/loss figures and a bet for the Greenbrier (this week’s PGA Tour event) later tonight.