The Race to Mallorca continues to heat up as the European Challenge Tour returns to France for the 13th edition of the Open de Bretagne. A popular stop for players and fans alike, we take a look at five things you need to know ahead of the popular event at Golf Blue Green Pleneuf-Val-Andre.
The biennial Walker Cup gets under way at Royal Liverpool Golf Club this weekend and there’ll be plenty of players in this week’s field keeping half an eye on the proceedings. Seven out of the 10 players who competed in the Great Britain and Ireland team in the last edition of the event in 2017 have played on the Challenge Tour this season, with three of the players from that team (to confirm), Matthew Jordan, Paul McBride and David Boote set to tee it up at Golf Blue Green Pleneuf-Val-Andre this week.
One player from the 2017 Walker Cup team who won’t be in the field is Jack Singh Brar, who captured the Open de Bretagne title twelve months ago and now plies his trade on the European Tour. He is joined on the circuit by 2018 Challenge Tour graduate Robert MacIntyre who, you guessed it, also played in the transatlantic match at Los Angeles Country Club in 2017, where he recorded a dominant 6&4 victory over highly-tipped American Cameron Champ.
French to the Fore
In the tournament’s 13-year history, only one French player has ever captured the Open de Bretagne crown, Benjamin Hébert in 2014. That could all be about to change this year, with several French players enjoying a flying season on the circuit. Not least Antoine Rozner who captured back-to-back victories in May, at the Challenge de España and the Prague Golf Challenge. Two further French players, Grégory Havret and Robin Roussel, also occupy the top fifteen places on the Challenge Tour schedule with seven tournaments left to be played. They will be looking to bolster their promotion chances with a strong performance on home soil.
Golf Bluegreen de Pléneuf Val André is the scene of Eddie Pepperell’s unforgettable maiden Challenge Tour victory. A tournament invite, the Englishman arrived at the event with a lowly category and without the means to even afford his hotel room. A week later, with a spectacular play-off victory over Dane Jeppe Huldahl, the then 21-year-old had sewn up his Challenge Tour status and announced his presence on the European golfing scene. The rest, as they say, is history!
Winning the Open de Bretagne has often proved a stepping-stone to long-term success at the top tier of European golf, with multiple European Tour winners Eddie Pepperell and Andrea Pavan both conquering the tough coastal layout at Pléneuf Val André in recent years.
However, not all winners of the championship have triumphed in Brittany at the dawn of their careers. The first two winners of the event, former Ryder Cup player Peter Baker and three-time European Tour winner Joakim Haeggman both won the tournament after tasting much success on the European Tour.
Return to France
Renowned for its spectacular views, the Open de Bretagne marks the third of four events that will be held on French soil this season, following the Hauts de France - Pas de Calais Golf Open in June, which saw Robin Roussel capture his first Challenge Tour title, and the Le Vaudreuil Golf Challenge in July, where Steven Tiley completed a wire-to-wire victory.
In fact, the Open de Bretagne is the first of two tournaments to be staged in France this month, with the Challenge Tour players set for a quick return when the Hopps Open de Provence gets under way from 26-29 September.