Alstom Open de France preview

The European Tour travels to Versailles this week for the Alstom Open de France. An impressive field including Martin Kaymer and defending champion Miguel Angel Jimenez will tee it up at Le Golf National.

Miguel Angel Jimenez defends

Lowdown: The European Tour travels to Versailles this week for the Alstom Open de France. An impressive field including Martin Kaymer and defending champion Miguel Angel Jimenez will tee it up at Le Golf National. The French Open is the oldest national open on continental Europe. It was first contested at La Boulie in 1906 and was won by home player Arnaud Massy. He took his national title three more times, lastly in 1925 when he was 48-years-old. The French Open has been a fixture on the European Tour schedule since 1972. It's one of the most prestigious events on the circuit and now one of the richest. It's been won by Seve Ballesteros, Nick Faldo, Greg Norman and Colin Montgomerie amongst others. Last season Miguel Angel Jimenez looked to be cruising to victory, two shots clear with one hole to play. But he dunked his approach to the final green into the water and ended up tied with Alejandro Canizares and Francesco Molinari. The first playoff hole witnessed a catalogue of errors with Canizares in the water twice and Molinari in the fairway bunker from the tee. Jimenez pulled his second shot to the left of the green but was able to get up-and-down for a par and the win. A strong field will compete for the €500,000 winner's cheque this week. World Number three and 2009 champion Martin Kaymer heads the field, long-hitting Bubba Watson has made the journey across the Atlantic and the Italian trio of Francesco Molinari, Edoardo Molinari and Matteo Manassero will be looking to make an impact. Le Golf National was designed on flat farmland near the Palace of Versailles. The layout is the work of architect Hubert Chesneau and construction began in 1987. In 1990 the course was open for play. This will be the 19th time the course has been used as the venue for the Open de France.

Venue: Le Golf National, Paris, France Date: Jun 30 - Jul 3 Course stats: par 71, 7,300 yards Purse: €3,000,000 Winner: €500,000 Defending Champion: Miguel Angel Jimenez

TV Coverage: Thursday 30 - Live on Sky Sports 1 from 9.30am Friday 1 - Live on Sky Sports 2 from 9.30am Saturday 2 - Live on Sky Sports 1 from 1pm Sunday 3 - Live on Sky Sports 2 from 12pm

Player Watch: Francesco Molinari - The Italian was tied second in this event last year after losing a playoff to Miguel Angel Jimenez. He's an extremely consistent driver and good ball-striker and those are essential attributes around this layout.

Peter Hanson - The Swede finished in an excellent seventh place at the US Open and was fourth in the Wales Open before that. He also finished in the top-10 in this event last year.

Gregory Bourdy - The Frenchman would love to record a victory on home soil. He's a streaky player and has showed good form through June with a second place in the Wales Open and an 11th at the BMW Italian Open.

Key hole: 18th. A 470 yard par 4 with water all down the left side for the tee shot. The approach must carry all the way to the putting surface over water. Anyone requiring par to win upon reaching this hole will have their work cut out, as Jimenez displayed last season.

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Fergus Bisset
Contributing Editor

Fergus is Golf Monthly's resident expert on the history of the game and has written extensively on that subject. He is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and his passion for the sport was bolstered during his time at St Andrews university studying history. He went on to earn a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. Fergus has worked for Golf Monthly since 2004 and has written two books on the game; "Great Golf Debates" together with Jezz Ellwood of Golf Monthly and the history section of "The Ultimate Golf Book" together with Neil Tappin , also of Golf Monthly. 

Fergus once shanked a ball from just over Granny Clark's Wynd on the 18th of the Old Course that struck the St Andrews Golf Club and rebounded into the Valley of Sin, from where he saved par. Who says there's no golfing god?