Top golfers primed for French Open

CityPress - - Sport - PULE MOKHINE pmokhine@city­press.co.za

Golf en­thu­si­asts are ex­pected to revel in top-class en­ter­tain­ment when the ma­jor­ity of Europe’s finest play­ers tee off in the 100th French Open at Le Golf Na­tional – in Saint-Quentin-en-Yve­lines, Paris – on Thurs­day.

In­au­gu­rated in 1906, it is renowned for be­ing Europe’s old­est na­tional cham­pi­onship. Its venue pro­vides scenic view­ing – the 18hole Al­ba­tros course is si­t­u­ated on the out­skirts of Ver­sailles, with its his­toric palace and gar­dens.

The tour­na­ment car­ries a prize fund of €3 mil­lion (R50 mil­lion).

World num­ber four, and four-time ma­jor win­ner, Rory McIl­roy of North­ern Ire­land, along with this year’s Mas­ters cham­pion, Danny Wil­lett of Eng­land, will head­line a su­perb cast. It fea­tures nine ma­jor win­ners, 21 Euro­pean Ry­der Cup play­ers, and 31 pro­fes­sion­als from the top 100 in the Of­fi­cial World Golf Rank­ing.

But the French Open venue is so tough for play­ers that fans could eas­ily be fooled into be­liev­ing the con­test is one of the ma­jors. This is not the case, but the course lay­out has been de­signed to give par­tic­i­pants a very dif­fi­cult round.

A look at the 72-par set­ting shows it will not be easy on the greens or the fair­ways – the wa­ter haz­ards will make the course spe­cially dif­fi­cult. The first, sec­ond, 13th, 15th, 16th and 18th holes are flanked by wa­ter and will be tough on con­tes­tants at­tempt­ing birdies and ea­gles.

What makes the show­down even more ex­cit­ing – un­like many other con­tests on the Euro­pean Tour – is that the greens at the French Open have de­lib­er­ately been made large and fast. This gives or­gan­is­ers plenty of op­tions for pin place­ments – a test for the putting skills of golfers.

But, as is the nature of the game, th­ese hard­ships are there to sep­a­rate the men from the boys by mak­ing the event even more of a spec­ta­cle.

Last year’s win­ner, Bernd Wies­berger of Aus­tria, reg­is­tered a score of 13 un­der par for a to­tal of 271, beat­ing English­man James Mor­ri­son by three strokes.

Bernd Wies­berger 14 4 Cre­ate dif­fi­culty as they are fast and large. This gives the or­gan­is­ers many op­tions for pin place­ments, so they can make holes longer or shorter. Con­tes­tants will have to be ac­cu­rate in ev­ery part of their game

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