THE HNA French Open plays host to 23 Ryder Cup players with 58 appearances between them and a few others hoping to be here next year.
There hasn’t been a French winner of this tournament since Thomas Levet six years ago and there are a few of his countrymen hoping to follow in his footsteps including Alexander Levy, Victor Dubuisson, Gregory Havret and Gregory Bourdy.
L’Albatross course is fairly exposed with undulating fairways. Links-style bunkers, water in play on six holes and slick greens means you have to be on your game on the 7247-yards par 71 and I'll be looking at Driving Accuracy, Greens in Regulation and Putting Average stats.
If you forget his missed cut at the BMW PGA Championship in May, Tommy Fleetwood has had three top sixes in his last three outings. His T4 at Erin Hills in the US Open, with an 11-under 277 is not to be sniffed at. In fact he was not over par in any of his four rounds.
He seems to have gone back to his old style of play and it’s beginning to show results this year. He won the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship in January and is looking good to add to that success. His putting is his Achilles Heel but he was solid at Erin Hills and I’m going on that form.
DA: 73.9% (11th) GIR: 82.9% (3rd) PA: 32.2 (T148th)
Alex Noren had a top-10 finish here last year before that brilliant run which saw him win four tournaments in five months. Although he missed the cut at the US Open (among a few notable others) he has won already this season (PGA Championship) with a final round of 62.
The Swede is a class act and has the game to be a top worldwide player. Although his driving accuracy can sometimes be a bit off his GIR and Putting Average stats more than make up for that. DA: 54.8% (152nd) GIR: 70.5% (59th) PA: 28.6 (30th)
Another who missed the cut at the US Open was Francesco Molinari but his over form on the US Tour has been impressive this year. He is playing more across the Atlantic and it seems to be improving his game. Last month he finished solo second in the PGA Championship at Wentworth behind the aforementioned Noren and this course could suit the Italian.
DA: 72.12% (3rd) GIR: 67.84 (39th) PA: 31.5 (T35)
1.5pts ew Tommy Fleetwood (Betfred, 22-1)
1.5pts ew Alex Noren (Coral, 20-1)
1.5pts ew Francesco Molinari (Ladbrokes, 14-1)