We have a high class renewal of the Open de France this week and Dan Geraghty has gone through the form book to come up with six selections to consider in the First Round Leader market...
"That makes it two top 10s in a row for the Frenchman and this week on home soil he has a nice tee time at a course he has plenty of experience of, including an excellent third place finish in this tournament in 2012."
There are three events to choose from this week and there appears to be a bit of a draw bias in two of them. The morning starters look to have an advantage at both the Open de France (where my picks will come from) and the Barracuda Championship. Here's the Open de France first round leaderboard from last year:
- 68 Victor Dubuisson
- 68 Rafa Cabrera Bello
- 68 Jaco van Zyl
- 68 Bernd Wiesberger
- 69 Martin Kaymer
- 69 Simon Khan
- 69 Andrew Dodt
- 69 Daniel Gaunt
- 69 Anirban Lahiri
- 69 Marcel Siem
- 69 Gregory Bourdy
With bad weather on the horizon, we can again expect only a handful of players to break 70 this year. Winds are expected to be around 15mph - 22mph all day and rain is expected from early afternoon; as intimated, I will be concentrating solely on the morning day one starters.
I'll start with my each-way selection, Thomas Pieters, who has a wee bit of course experience and the right tee time. With his recent thumb tendinitis hopefully behind him he has every chance of a strong summer that leads to the Ryder Cup.
Raphael Jacquelin advertised his form for all to see with an excellent fourth place finish last time out at the BMW International Open. That makes it two top 10s in a row for the Frenchman and this week on home soil he has a nice tee time at a course he has plenty of experience of, including an excellent third place finish in this tournament in 2012.
Jacquelin is out in round one with Pablo Larrazabal; plenty of people have been on the Spaniard in the last couple of weeks after he claimed he was striking the ball better than ever. His ninth place finish last week suggests he may be onto something and this week's venue is the scene of his first European Tour victory in 2008, a tournament he led after a round one 65. Third member of the three-ball, Francesco Molinari, also ticks all the boxes this week but is reluctantly left out at the prices.
Frenchman Thomas Linard may have made only five of 13 European Tour cuts this year but his name is one that has cropped up time and time again when I've been researching formlines. This is his first year on the European Tour and he got here the hard way, having played his way through the Alps and Challenge Tour's. He's only 28 and clearly has plenty of talent. I'm happy to take a chance on him in his home Open, which he's playing for the third time and this year he approaches with more confidence than ever before.
Matteo Manassero's form of late has been encouraging to say the least. Many had worried we might not see him at his best again but three good performances in a row, including a made cut at the US Open (which he had to qualify for) have provided plenty of encouragement. Manassero has made the cut in five of six appearances at the French Open, he can keep his recent solid form going.
Clement Sordet can count himself unlucky that he's not yet reached the European Tour. Here's a brief rundown of his career thus far; he was 20th at the Le Vaudreuil Golf Challenge on his Challenge Tour debut in 2013, the only event he played that year, then he went back the following year and finished second on his only Challenge Tour appearance of 2014. After graduating from Texas Tech he won one of his first Challenge Tour starts of 2015 but missed out on promotion to the European Tour after only playing half a season. Roll on to 2016 and he already has another Challenge Tour win to his name and it's likely we'll be seeing him regularly on the main Tour next year. He looks an excellent outside shout on home soil this week.
Back Thomas Pieters @ 66/1 (07:40)
Back Raphael Jacquelin @ 80/1 (07:50)
Back Pablo Larrazabal @ 60/1 (07:50)
Back Thomas Linard @ 250/1 (07:50)
Back Matteo Manassero @ 80/1 (08:10)
Back Clement Sordet @ 200/1 (09:20)
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2016 First Round Leader P&L: