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Thomas is Open de France favorite


Open de France logo


Justin Thomas and Jon Rahm, the World's two highest-ranked golfers not taking a break and putting up their feet this week, have crossed the Atlantic to join England's new No 10, Tommy Fleetwood in the strong field seeking to capture the Open de France.

But that is no surprise. In fact, the surprise is that more of the US's big guns haven't joined them. And for two good reasons.

One of them is the fact that the Open de France is the first one of three consecutive peak-season $7m Rolex Series events that will move on from France to the Irish Open and to the Scottish Open before finally heading to Carnoustie for Great Britain's oldest, biggest and richest battle of them all of them all, the $10.25m Open Championship.

The second reason is the fact that Le Golf National, where the Open De France tees off on Thursday, also happens to be the venue for September's Ryder Cup battle between Europe and the USA.

Thomas, the World No 2, didn't admit to being an advanced scout for the US but he did say in a press conference this week that he was, "very excited to have the opportunity to be playing in a European Tour event again.

“It is something I haven’t done since my first start as a pro when I came over to play in the Dunhill Links (2013).”

He has twice played in the Open since then, tying for 53rd in 2016 at Royal Troon and missing the cut at Royal Birkdale last year and after picking up just one top 10 in his last seven US PGA Tour starts, he may not be carrying sufficient form to slug it out with the currently hotter Rahm, the world No 5 and Fleetwood, this week's defending champion who just two weeks ago was able to charge up the leaderboard at the US Open with a record-equalling 63 and finish just one shot behind Brooks Koepke in second place.

Jetlag and having to come down from a huge emotional high clearly took its toll on Fleetwood last week, but expect the reigning Race to Dubai champion to come out firing again this week on the same course where he was so successful last year.

Le Golf National, outside Paris and which, except on three occasions, has been used for the French Open since 1991, has recently been renovated for the Ryder Cup and will feature faster greens, up-hill and down-dale fairways and a tight finish.

The water-guarded holes on 15, 16 and 18 will see to that, making accurate stroke play and an uncluttered focus absolute essentials heading down the closing stretch.

Accurate tee shots all week could also be important on a course where the number of greens hit in regulation has counted for a lot down the years.

Rahm doesn't play much on the European Tour but when he has made rare appearances, the 23-year-old Spaniard has mostly been successful, winning the Irish Open and the season-ending DP World Tour Championship last year and the Open de Espana in April this year.

He only finished 12th here at Le Golf National last year, but the experience and course knowledge he picked up could well help make him a winner again this week and a key member of Thomas Bjorn's European Ryder Cup team in September.

Certainly, he's my favorite - if he doesn't beat himself up - and not Thomas, as the bookmakers had it on Tuesday Morning.

Thomas topped the odds at 10/1 followed by Rahm at 12/1, Fleetwood and Sweden's always dangerous Alex Noren at 14/1, Spain's Rafael Cabrera Bello at 18/1, back in form English veteran Ian Poulter at 22/1 and Spanish icon Sergio Garcia, a great lover of the Ryder Cup who, at 25/1 is much lower than he should be if he could only finish off a lot of the good work he does, but a lot higher, perhaps, than he deserves, because for too long now the 2017 Masters champion has been unable to do just that.

The fact that Poulter is not in a position right now to qualify for the Ryder Cup where he has always starred, could make him especially dangerous this week when he is sure to try to impress Bjorn in the hope of being a captain's wild card pick if he doesn't qualify.

In fact, this Ryder Cup factor allied with the fat prizes on offer this week could be the driving force for a good few others, not the least of them being a hot Thorbjorn Olesen whose final-round 61 in Germany last week is a clear warning of what he can do, England's Tyrrell Hatton, Lee Westwood, Andy Sullivan and last week's BMW International Open winner Matt Wallace and Germany's two time major winner Martin Kaymer, second last week and another who will be focused on playing Ryder Cup golf later this year.

The weather? It won't be perfect. Good waterproofs and some patience might be needed on Sunday.

Our boffins are saying it will be breezy with mostly easterly winds gusting up into the mid 20 km/h on all four days with a warm weekend bringing overnight rain on Saturday that should soften up the greens for Sunday's final round but could then be followed by more, but lighter rain from about 2 p.m. on Sunday afternoon.

(Tuesday a.m. June 26, 2018)

Justin Thomas 10/1
Jon Rahm 12/1
Tommy Fleetwood 14/1
Alex Noren 14/1
Rafael Cabrera Bello 18/1
Ian Poulter 22/1
Sergio Garcia 25/1
Matthew Fitzpatrick 25/1
Thorbjorn Olesen 25/1
Andy Sullivan 25/1
Tyrrell Hatton 28/1
Martin Kaymer 35/1
Lee Westwood 35/1
Haotong Li 40/1
Matt Wallace 45/1
Ross Fisher 50/1
Lucas Bjerregaard 50/1
Thomas Pieters 50/1
Paul Dunne 50/1
Mikko Korhonen 50/1
Soren Kjeldsen 50/1
Michael Lorenzo-Vera 50/1
Alexander Bjork 60/1
Shane Lowry 60/1
Russell Knox 60/1.

Note: For all the latest odds go to

Visit BetWay for other bet alternatives.  

Neville Leck

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