With the country’s bid to host The 2018 Ryder Cup entering its final stages, golf in France is a sport on the ascendancy and the effect can be seen emerging on the European Challenge Tour.
Of the 63 players to make the cut in the ALLIANZ Europen de Strasbourg-Golf de la Wantzenau, 15 were French – including two amateurs - highlighting the depth of talent currently pervading French golf.
Last season François Calmels, Alexandre Kaleka and Julien Quesne were all Challenge Tour winners and it is Kaleka who leads the French revolution again this campaign, residing in tenth position on the Rankings.
The success of French players on The European Tour in recent years, including former Ryder Cup player Thomas Levet, Grégory Bourdy, Christian Cévaёr and Grégory Havret has also helped inspire a new, promising generation of French players.
It is the latter, Havret, who has perhaps had the greatest influence on the fledgling career of Romain Wattel, the current World Amateur Number Four who is flying high this week in Strasbourg.
Wattel is a member of the same club, Bussy St Geroge, as the US Open runner up and according to the 19 year old it is becoming something of a production line for new talent.
“There’s a few of us from Bussy St Georges - Grégory Havret, François Calmels, Charles-Edouard Russo and myself – so it is a good centre to train,” said Wattel. “There’s a good spirit there.
“I know Grégory quite well. He is a very nice guy, very open minded. I can talk easily with him and he is very helpful with me. He gives me lots of tips.
“It was great watching him nearly win the US Open. It was crazy at our golf club. I hope it will be me in that position one day.”
Following in the footsteps of 2006 Amateur Champion Julien Guerrier, Wattel hopes to turn professional later this year and has already tasted life on The European Tour, finishing an impressive tied 32nd in the Alstom Open de France earlier in June.
“I played really well at the French Open and that gave me a lot of confidence,” he said. “It showed me how I need to improve myself to play on Tour but it gave me confidence coming into other tournaments.
“I’m hoping to turn professional after the Eisenhower Trophy and go to Qualifying School and see what happens, which Tour I’ll play on next year.
“I know I can play well in one tournament but I’ll have to see if I can get a European Tour card.”
Wattel hopes he can return to Le Golf National in eight years time, with the venue one of five in the running to host The 2018 Ryder Cup, competing against rival bids from Germany, Holland, Portugal and Spain.
“We’ve got a good generation of players coming through in France at the moment and The 2018 Ryder Cup would be a target for all of us if we are successful with the bid,” said Wattel. “It would be a dream to get on the Team and play at Le Golf National.
“The French Golf Federation have helped us a lot, sending us around the world to get experience of playing in different countries, different tournaments and on different types of courses.”