Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Open de France 2016 - Le Golf National (Albatross)

The 100th staging of the Open de France takes place this week and sees Rory McIlroy headline a stellar field in an event that is staged in direct competition to the WGC Bridgestone in Ohio. The Irishman arrives making his first appearance since announcing his withdrawal from The Olympics. With The Open just three weeks away, this will be Rory's last outing before teeing it up at Troon.

Last Week

Henrik Stenson put the two fingers up to everyone last week by winning in Germany, recovering well from his "neck injury" in Pennsylvania the week before!A disappointing effort from this blog as it looked like Joost Luiten would contend after day one but the stop/start nature of these tournaments of late does impact how players focus and challenge once they have been disrupted. Going forward, any tournament under threat of thunderstorm forecasts will have to be seriously considered as no-bets. You can't win a tournament on Day One but you can certainly lose it or make it near impossible to. Benjamin Hebert had a round to forget on Thursday but shot best of the day, 64 in round two to sit just outside the TOP20 and hopes were high, but alas the weekend effort wasn't what we wanted. With the emphasis last week in staying with recent selections (Luiten & Colsaerts) it was very frustrating to see Thor (Thorbjorn Olesen) in the mix as I had collected on his TOP20 in Ireland and put him up again to no avail at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth. "Keeping the Faith" was my theme but I chose the Belgian over the Dane! In hindsight the Dane was the bet, especially @ 66/1 and 7.00 for TOP10 and 3.75 for the TOP20. (he was runner-up). We'll approach this week a bit differently.

The Course this week 

The "Albatross" course underwent some design changes since last year but having had a look at the changes, the course setup should still suit those who have 1) played here previously and 2) have a good "links" pedigree as the Albatross does have that feel about it. The changes to the greens and bunkers could emphasize that again this week. The changes have been brought about in preparation for the Ryder Cup to be held here in two years time.


The Ones to Beat


Rory will go off favourite against a field not too dissimilar to the one that teed it up at The K Club last month. And the Irish Open results may be a marker for what may unfold here albeit a different type of course. So, who has course form? McDowell won back to back here two years ago before Bernd Wiesberger prevailed twelve months ago. Martin Kaymer has won here as too did his compatriot Marcel Siem. Victor Dubuisson has gone close since fellow Frenchman Thomas Levet won in 2011 and Rapahel Jacquelin warmed up nicely for his National Open by finishing 4th last Sunday to complete back to back TOP10s. (8th at The Nordea Masters). He was third back in 2012 here and can lead the home challenge.

With the WGC event on at the same time, there may be a greater desire from those competing here that would normally have competed at Firestone to produce the goods. Not that they don't try each week but its an ideal tournament to lay down a marker ahead of The Open and the PGA Championship two weeks after that. Its getting serious now the next few weeks!
Rory has dropped to World Number four following Dustin Johnson's win at Oakmont and Stenson did himself some good in the rankings by climbing to number five. The event has an estimated Strength of Field (SOF) rating of 235 where the winner could collect ~42 points in OWGR points but it's worth noting that the WGC event will be over 625 SOF, and the winner could collect ~ 68 ranking points. Rory has motivation to perform well this week!
Martin Kaymer is a former winner at the course and has slipped outside the TOP50 OWGR rankings. He will be looking to get a much needed win and move back up the rankings. The former World Number One is looking for his first win since winning his second Major at Pinehurst two years ago. Not only a past winner here, but he also finished 4th twelve months ago. His results the past seven years read 4-12-13-70-4-6-1. He has maintained his likeness for the course despite the changes and I don't see him suffering this week with the latest ones either, in fact he may prefer them. His scrambling game though is a worry but if the irons are dialed in it may be enough to contend.
Francesco Molinari returns to European action having played extensively on the PGA Tour this season and he arrives in good form with his third TOP10 in nine starts over there coming at Congressional last Sunday. He just doesn't win though, does he? Just three wins on tour with the last coming back in the 2012 Open de Espana doesn't inspire a win bet. His course form is solid too (6-26-18-2-mc-2-25-13) and he's probably more a TOP10 bet than anything else considering.

Bernd Wiesberger, the defending champion, has been very solid this season with 12/13 and 6 TOP20s under his belt. (missed cut coming at Oakmont) He was TOP 10 last week and in his homeland the week before the US Open and these came on the back of a TOP15 at Wentworth. On world rankings, he is the 8th best player in the field. (Five of the seven ahead of him have all won this season with the exception of Rafa Cabrera-Bello and Lee Westwood). The Austrian is a much different player the past eighteen months and its taken me awhile to respect his chances but he's certainly worthy of consideration to defend again.

Thorbjorn Olesen is definitely on the way back to establishing himself on Tour following a runner-up spot last week in Germany. The Dane has missed just three cuts from his twelve starts this season. He has been in the TOP20 seven times and he is worth taking @ 3.25 to do so again this week. He has though missed the cut the last three times he played here but was second in 2011 so I'm not particularly worried about those missed cuts. He has worked hard the past twelve months and that effort is starting to reap benefit with excellent form of late (19-8-15-10-mc-2). He is available @ 48.00 on the exchange too and could be about to win.

Kristoffer Broberg on the other hand is not in good form of late having missed three cuts in his last four starts. Ranked just outside the TOP100 in the OWGR, the Swede has course form having posted 25-12-12 in his three starts. He's not ranking well for GIR at present which is a concern but does seem to be putting well. If he can find the fairways he can produce another solid Golf National performance and sneak a TOP20 @ 9.00

Selections

1.50 pts WIN M. Kaymer @ 17.00
0.75 pts WIN T. Olesen @ 48.00
3.75 pts TOP20 T.Olesen @ 3.25
1.00 pts TOP20 K.Broberg @ 9.00

I really like the chances of Dustin Johnson at the WGC Bridgestone this week so its an each way double with Martin Kaymer. DJs driving and new found confidence from victory at Oakmont could see him go in again and the double can be backed in general @ 153.00

0.25 pts e/w DOUBLE D.Johnson (WGC) / M.Kaymer (ODF) @ 153.00