France's Arnaud Massy, who won the Open Championship in 1907, won the first two editions of this event in 1906 and 1907 and the Open de France is the oldest national open in Continental Europe.
The tournament wasn't played during the war years and the last two editions were cancelled because of the pandemic so this is the 104th edition.
The Open de France has been a mainstay on the DP World Tour since its inception 50 years ago.
Le Golf National, Paris
Par 71, 7,247 yards
Stroke index in 2019 - 71.92
Le Golf National only opened in 1990 but it's already establishing itself as a truly great venue that provides an extremely demanding test.
It's a fairly exposed track with a linksy feel and undulating fairways of average width. The greens are bentgrass, of an average size, and they usually run at around 12 on the stimpmeter. Water is in play on holes 1, 2, 13, 15, 16 and 18.
It's a stadium style course designed by Hubert Chesneau and Robert Van Hagge and it
underwent some significant changes prior to the 2016 edition, in preparation for the Ryder Cup in 2018.
Live on Sky Sports all four days, starting at 11:30 on Thursday
Last Five Winners with Pre-event Exchange Prices
2020 & '21 - Event cancelled
2019 - Nicolas Colsaerts -12 160.0159/1
2018 - Alex Noren -7 19.5
2017 - Tommy Fleetwood -12 25.024/1
2016 - Thongchai Jaidee -11 75.074/1
2015 - Bernd Wiesberger -13 38.037/1
What Will it Take to Win the Open de France?
Nicolas Colsaerts ranked third for Driving Distance when winning here three years ago and only 33rd for Driving accuracy but historically, the driving metrics averages show accuracy is more important than power. The DD average for the last 16 winners is 32.9 and the average DA ranking for the 16 is 11.25 so being straight off the tee is usually more important that hitting it miles but what you do after the drive is also important.
Colsaerts ranked third for Greens In Regulation and nine of the last 15 winners have ranked inside the top-three for GIR so that's a really key stat.
Colsaerts only ranked 68th for Scrambling and that's an unusually high ranking for any winner and especially so at Le Golf National.
The two previous winners, Alex Noren and Tommy Fleetwood, ranked eighth and ninth for Scrambling and that was still quite high for this venue...
Thongchai Jaidee ranked second for Scrambling when he won here in 2016, the 2015 winner, Bernd Wiesberger, ranked third, when the top-five scramblers all finished inside the top-six places. Jaidee also finished runner-up here eight years ago when he also ranked second for Scrambling, with Mathew Baldwin, who finished 5th, ranking first. In 2013, six of the first seven home ranked inside the top-eight for Scrambling and ten years ago, four of the first six home ranked in the top-six for that stat.
GIR is a stat to concentrate on, but Scrambling looks the most important and the top scrambler for the week has finished in the places in 14 of the last 17 renewals.
Noren only ranked 37th for Putting Average in 2018 (Colsaerts ranked ninth in 2019) but it's not unusual to see someone to rank poorly for putting and win. Fleetwood's PA ranking in 2017 was only 53rd, Wiesberger ranked just 33rd in 2016 and the three winners between 2011 and 2013 had an average PA ranking of just 25.6.
Is There an Angle In?
Although he'd finished 11th in both 2011 and 2012, in addition to a couple of other top-25 finishes, Colsaerts didn't have the strongest set of form figures around Le Golf National before he won here but course form usually counts for plenty.
Noren took his time to get to grips with the track, he missed his first three cuts and his next four visits yielded form figures reading 78-37-14-MC, but he was trending in the right direction having finished eighth in 2016 and tenth in 2017 before he won in 2018.
Both Graeme McDowell and Jean-Francois Remesy have won the event back-to-back and there was enough evidence in the 2016 renewal alone to highlight how important course form is...
Jaidee had finished second and tenth in the two previous renewals, the runner-up to Jaidee, Francesco Molinari, was occupying that finishing position for the third time here, Rory McIlroy finished third, six years after he'd fished fourth on his previous visit, Rafa Cabrera-Bello, who finished fourth, had also placed in each of the two previous editions and former winner, Martin Kaymer, finished fifth.
The Wales Open (now known as the Cazoo Open) wasn't played in-between 2015 and 2019 but prior to 2015 there appeared to be a very strong correlation between the host venue - Celtic Manor - and Le Golf National, and Colsaerts boosted the link in the last edition of this event.
Colsaerts was fourth in the 2014 edition of the Wales Open and the three winners of that event between 2010 and 2012 were G-Mac, Noren and Jaidee. All three have won here.
When Joost Luiten claimed the Welsh title ahead of Colsaerts in 2014, the 2017 Open de France winner, Fleetwood finished second.
The man who finished second to Fleetwood here in 2017, Peter Uihlein, was the runner-up in Wales in 2013, and finally, South Africa's Richard Sterne has finished second at both venues. It looks a great link.
Is There an Identikit Winner?
This an event that appears to be shifting somewhat. Outsiders used to have a really good record, but the winners have been somewhat easier to find of late.
Colsaerts was the first big- priced winner in seven years but prior to the first of Graeme McDowell's back-to-back wins in 2013 (G-mac was priced at 34.033/1 and 16.015/1), longshots had - had a very strong record and six of the eight winners before 2013 were matched at a triple-figure price before the off.
Winner's Position and Exchange Price Pre-Round Four
2020 & '21 - Event cancelled
2019 - Nicolas Colsaerts led by three strokes 2.001/1
2018 - Alex Noren T7 - trailing by seven strokes 42.041/1
2017 - Tommy Fleetwood T3 - trailing by two 5.14/1
2016 - Thongchai Jaidee - led by two 3.953/1
2015 - Bernd Wiesberger - solo third - trailing by three 6.86/1
Despite leading by three through 54 holes, Colsaerts stuttered over the line in 2019. George Coetzee, who was matched at a low of 1.330/100 and J.B Hansen (hit just 1.241/4) both looked more likely to lift the trophy at various points in the final round and converting from the front here is notoriously tricky.
Although never in front until day four, Fleetwood was in the van from the get-go in 2017 and Jaidee was magnificent in 2016, calmly converting a two-stroke lead into a four-stroke winning margin but this is usually a really hard track to hold on and eight of the last 11 54-hole leaders have been beaten.
Every winner here has been inside the top-ten places through 54 holes, but we've seen plenty of strokes made up on a Sunday.
We've seen winners come from two, three, four, five and seven adrift and when McDowell defended the title eight years ago, he trailed by eight with a round to go!
Noren trailed by seven with a round to go in 2018 and he was one of five men to trade at odds-on in round four. Marcus Kinult, who had led after round three, was matched at a low of 1.8810/11, Jon Rahm hit 1.981/1, Julian Suri was matched at 1.9520/21 and the eventual second, Chris Wood, traded all the way down to 1.454/9 before bogeys at 15 and 17 did for his chances. It's a really difficult finish and posting a score and waiting for the rest to fail has often been the way the title's been decided.
In three of the last four renewals the 17th and 18th holes have ranked as the two most difficult holes on the course.
Previously a par five, the 18th is very often the hardest hole on the course but after the par five 14th, it's a tough finish all round, so if your fancy is in front with four to play you might want to bank some profit and if you're planning to trade in running on Sunday, anyone already in the house will have a distinct advantage on anyone on the same score with holes to play. That may seem obvious but the market always favours those still on the course, with optimistic punters imagining birdies, but in reality, playing the last four holes in level-par is a great finish.
Thomas Pieters and Patrick Reed are vying for favouritism and neither make much appeal.
Pieters has uninspiring course form figures reading 29-D-16-13-31-26 and Reed lost two of his three Ryder Cup matches here in 2018.
Pieters has been largely disappointing since finishing second in the BMW International Open in June and Reed could easily be fatigued having been on the go for the last three weeks - sandwiching the BMW PGA Championship, two weeks ago, in-between two LIV Golf events in the states.
If forced to pick one, it would be Reed. He was fifth at Wentworth a fortnight ago and he may well be inspired by not being included in this week's Presidents Cup but I'm happy to leave them both alone before the off.
I'll have one or two outside picks for the Find Me a 100 Winner column tomorrow but for now I'm going with just one - Scotland's Ewen Ferguson.
Although he's playing here for the first time, there's plenty of evidence to suggest he'll take to the venue.
Ferguson won the Qatar Masters at Doha, another exposed track with a linksy feel to it, and he finished 12th in the Cazoo Open at Celtic Manor on debut last month.
He's missed two of four cuts since then, but he's also won his second DP World Tour event - the ISPS Handa World Invitational - and he's finished runner-up in Denmark, where he was very impressive in-contention.
Ferguson ranked eighth for Greens In Regulation, third for Scrambling and second for Putting Average when winning in Northern Ireland in August and he ranked first for both GIR and Scrambling in Denmark.
His missed cut at Wentworth after the disappointment of defeat in Denmark the week before, when he traded at a low of 1.251/4, was totally understandable. The winner, Oliver Wilson, holed two 60+ foot putts and a 13-footer for birdies late on to steel the title and Ferguson will have still been shellshocked when he teed it up in Surrey.
A week off to refresh will have done him some good and he looks a very fair price at 70.069/1 to win his third title of the year.
Ewen Ferguson @ 70.069/1
I'll be back tomorrow with the Find Me a 100 Winner column.
*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter