Eyes will turn to the 2018 Ryder Cup this week, as Le Golf National in Paris plays host to the HNA Open de France.
Le Golf National is widely viewed as one of the finest tracks in Europe, and has played host to France’s national event on 24 previous occasions.
The players will be well used to the test, but regular visitors will be faced with substantial changes – with a new drainage system put in, as well as major bunker adjustments and hospitality and infrastructure improvements ahead of next year’s Ryder Cup.
The event forms part of the European Tour’s flagship Rolex Series and it has attracted a decent field in pursuit of the $7 million prize fund.
A man sure to be under the spotlight is Jon Rahm, the Spanish sensation who has burst so spectacularly onto the scene in 2017.
He is priced up at 13.0 by 188BET, and will be keen to make an impression in Europe after performing so well around the world since turning professional.
However, even for people with short memories, it would be difficult to forget the sulky, surly performance Rahm gave at the US Open a mere couple of weeks ago.
Yes Erin Hills was a severe test and Rahm has garnered a reputation for being a player who wears his heart on his sleeve. But virtually every poor shot, and in truth there were plenty, prompted petulant swings of clubs and verbal volleys.
Rahm could easily blow away the field, such is his talent, but he has much to learn about how he carries himself and it would be wise to swerve him for the time being.
Le Golf National is second behind only the Irish Open for back-to-back winners, five in France to six in Ireland, and that will give hope to supporters of Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee who was a four-shot victor 12 months ago. He can be backed at 51.0 to repeat the feat.
Tommy Fleetwood is arguably the most in-form player in the field. The Southport native shrugged off a disappointing spell to claim fourth at the US Open and followed that up with a top-ten finish in Germany last week. If he can carry the forward momentum into a third week, 23.0 could look a decent price.
Summer is supposed to be here in Europe, although you would not know it by looking out of the window and wind and rain are predicted for Paris this week. Le Golf National is a tough test on a serene day, so it may be wise to look for a chiselled veteran capable of grinding out a score.
A player who fits into that bracket – although he may not like being tagged a chiselled veteran – is Lee Westwood. Still desperate to shed his tag as one of the best players never to win a major, Westwood has shown signs of good form this year. He missed the cut at the US Open, but that’s no knock against him and he’s had four top-20 finishes in 2017.
Another tick in the Westwood box is his record at Le Golf National. He has finished in the top five on three occasions, including a play-off loss to Martin Kaymer in 2009, and at 34.0 he looks a decent bet to go deep into the weekend.