Top golfers primed for French Open
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