Golf for the ‘crème de la crème’
Alstom Open de France, July 5 to 8 at Golf National Club:
The Open de France is the oldest national open championship in continental Europe. Dating back to 1906, the Open de France has quite a history of great winners. The Open de France was the first of many great tournaments that Seve Ballesteros won in his impressive career. From July 5 to 8, the € 3,15 million Alstom Open de France tournament will once again bring the ‘crème de la crème’ of the European Tour to the Golf National Club in Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines.
This is one of the championships that really matter on the European Tour calendar and you can tell by the entry list. There will be no less than 13 players from the top 50 on the Official World Golf Ranking in the field, including Englishman Ian Poulter and Scotland’s Martin Laird. The Race to Dubai leader Justin Rose and Martin Kaymer will tee off, as will 2010 US Open Champion Graeme McDowell, Swede Peter Hanson and the European Ryder Cup Team captain José María Olazábal, who won the Open de France in 2001. Among the players, there will be eight Major Champions playing for the French title.
Another French win?
The big question for the French golf fans is whether there will be another Frenchman to grasp the title in this field of seasoned golf icons. Will we see another local winner among the 15 French players that tee off on Thursday July 5? Of course, Thomas Levet will be present at the Golf National Club to defend the title he won in 2011 by finishing one shot clear of Dane Thorbjørn Olesen and Englishman Mark Foster. The packed galleries at the Albatros course certainly enjoyed the tournament and the home win, just weeks after Le Golf National was awarded The 2018 Ryder Cup. Honouring the Golf National to be the host underlined the status of the Albatros Course as one of Europe’s great golf courses. The Albatros was designed in the late eighties by Hubert Chesneau on the original pattern of a golf stadium, allowing to at least 70,000 spectators to watch.
A hard time
The narrow fairways and difficult roughs, the strategically located water hazards and undulating turf often give players a hard time – and spectators the excitement they bought their entrance ticket for. The Albatros course – host to the Ryder Cup in 2018 – is notoriously hard to play for amateurs and inspires respect to the great professionals. “The total length of over 7000 yards is not the main difficulty. It is the diversity of shots. The diversity of both ‘links course’, ‘target golf’ and ‘water hazards’ and ‘bunkers’ will create the demand for a full set of clubs”, the Golf National Club comments on its website.
As the 2010 champion Miguel Angel Jiménez stated: “The Albatros course is a great golf course, very attractive, but also very difficult. It requires you to use every club in the bag.” Local hero Thomas Levet comments: “The Albatros course is very attractive, but hard to play. It is vital to hit the fairway in order to have a good shot to the green. Miss the fairway and par is often very difficult to achieve.”
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