Monday, 20 June 2005
Major Champions Paul Lawrie, José Maria Olazábal and Ian Woosnam will join four of last year’s victorious European Ryder Cup Team and defending champion, Jean-Francois Remesy, in the richest Open de France at Le Golf National.

The event will carry a record prize fund of €3.5 million, one of the largest in Continental Europe, when local hero Remesy and the high quality field chase a first prize of €583,330 (£390,888).

Since 2002, prize money has grown from €2 million with the aim of breaking the €4 million mark for the centenary edition of the Open de France next year.

Twelve months ago Remesy ended a 35 year wait for a home winner of the Open de France when he became the first Frenchman to lift the title since Jean Garaïalde in 1969 over the superb Albatross Course. This year he will be aiming to become the first player to successfully defend the title since England’s Nick Faldo in 1989.

The highest ranked French player in the field is Ryder Cup player, Levet, who will defend his Barclays Scottish Open title at Loch Lomond two weeks later. Levet is joined by fellow Oakland Hills heroes, Miguel Angel Jiménez of Spain, Paul McGinley of Ireland and Scotland’s Colin Montgomerie, who won the title in 2000.

Of the Major winners in the field, Lawrie and Woosnam have yet to get their hands on the title which was first won by Frenchman, Arnaud Massy, in 1906 and boasts a phenomenal Roll of Honour including most of the legends of the game.

Olazábal was victorious in 2001, although not at Le Golf National. The Spaniard, who won two Masters titles, was successful at Lyons GC in one of only two times that the Open de France has not been played over the tremendous Paris course in the past 15 years.

Of the French challenge, Gregory Havret, winner of the 2001 Italian Open and Christian Cévaër, the 2004 Canarias Open de España champion, both know what it takes to triumph on The European Tour International Schedule while Raphaël Jacquelin is another to watch having also been runner-up this season in Indonesia.

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