McIlroy and Willett play 100th Open de France

The pair will face competition from a strong field at Le Golf National near Paris

Willett and McIlroy headline at 100th Open de France
Willett and McIlroy headline at 100th Open de France
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Rory McIlroy and Danny Willett will tee it up at Le Golf National in Paris this week, seeking victory in the 100th Open de France over the course that will host the 2018 Ryder Cup.

A strong field has assembled for the 100th Open de France. Rory McIlroy and Danny Willett headline, but they will face stiff competition from some of Europe’s best. BMW PGA champion Chris Wood will tee it up at Le Golf National, as will Lee Westwood, Rafa Cabrera Bello, Martin Kaymer, Matt Fitzpatrick and defending champion Bernd Wiesberger.

There’s been a conflict in the schedules with this year’s Open de France clashing with the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. But, as it’s the 100th running of the great event and, owing to the fact it’s being contested over the 2018 Ryder Cup course, the tournament has been given elevated standing by the European Tour with extra Ryder Cup points on offer.

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 tournament has been a fixture on the European Tour schedule since 1972. It’s one of the most prestigious events on the circuit and has been won by Seve Ballesteros, Nick Faldo, Greg Norman and Colin Montgomerie, among others. Last year, Austria’s Bernd Wiesberger carded a superb final round of 65 to win by three shots from James Morrison of England.

The course at 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 24th time the course has been used as the venue for the Open de France.

L’Albatros Course at Le Golf National will play host to the Ryder Cup in 2018 and the layout has been renovated in preparation for that event and this year’s 100th Open de France. A new irrigation and drainage system has been installed while the bunkering and lake edging has been improved.

After possible rain on Thursday, the weather forecast looks set fair for the weekend.

Venue: Le Golf National, Paris, France Date: June 30 – Jul 3 Course stats: par 71, 7,249 yards Purse: €3,500,000 Defending Champion: Bernd Wiesberger (-13)

TV Coverage: Thursday 30 – Sky Sports 4 from 9.30am Friday 1 – Sky Sports 4 from 11.30am Saturday 2 – Sky Sports 4 from 12.30pm Sunday 3 – Sky Sports 4 from 12pm

Player watch:

Rafa Cabera Bello – The Spaniard has been enjoying a great season and is currently fourth on the Race to Dubai. He was fifth in this event last season.

Thorbjorn Olesen – The talented Dane had a chance to win last week in Germany but faded to a tie for second with a disappointing final round. He’s been on good form on the European Tour this year with five top-10 finishes. He was second in this tournament back in 2011.

Thorbjorn Olesen swing sequence:

Pablo Larrazabal – He claimed his first European Tour victory in this event back in 2008. He’s on solid form and was tied 9th in last week’s BMW International Open.

Key hole: 18th. A 471-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. A player requiring par to win upon reaching this hole will have his work cut out.

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?