Wednesday, 04 July 2012
Graeme McDowell  (Getty Images)
Graeme McDowell (Getty Images)
Ryder Cup stars Graeme McDowell and Justin Rose both expect Le Golf National to provide a stern test at this week’s Alstom Open de France.

Both players come into the event in good form – England’s Rose is leading The Race to Dubai while McDowell was runner-up to Webb Simpson at the US Open Championship.

“It's a busy time of the season, for sure,” said the Northern Irishman. “This is really the sort of meat and drink of the season, from the US Open through the US PGA, it's a good time of the year to be playing well and feeling good.

“It’s great to be here this week. This is a golf course I've always enjoyed coming back to. It’s a very tough test of golf here. 

“You've got the rough that's particularly tough this year, a fast and firm golf course. You've got to hit it in the fairway and from there you have a chance to score. I'm definitely looking forward to the test this week.”

And while he may have narrowly missed out on a second career Major at The Olympic Club in San Francisco, McDowell believes this week can stand him in good stead for The Open Championship in two weeks’ time.

“Speaking to my caddie, Lytham is going to be a threader's golf course,” he added. “You have to really place it well off the tee. This week is very similar to that. 

“You have to thread it and take shots on a little bit and if you miss them, you're in trouble. This is firm and fast - it's got links elements to this place, and I've always thought and I've always enjoyed this golf course for that reason. It's not going to blow too hard this week.”

Rose, The European Number One in 2007 and currently on track to regain that crown after winning the WGC-Cadillac Championship and finishing second at the BMW PGA Championship, believes the dreaded closing stretch could prove decisive on Sunday afternoon.

“Obviously I know the golf course and enjoyed it in the past,” he said. “In 2003, I think I finished third, I’ve had some success but guys enjoy the golf course and I think that's testament to the tournament. 

“It's always nice to come and play a course that's a great challenge. I think heading into The Open Championship, from what I saw yesterday, it's going to prove a good test. I think you need to drive the ball very well this week and there's a few irons off the tee in certain places but the rough thick so you've got to keep the ball in play which will keep a good test. 

“I have not played the back nine yet but from what I remember, you've got 15 where there's water all around the second shot, the par three 16th, the pin will be tucked near the water again. 17 is the long, tough, par four, a lot of thick rough down the left, and 18, obviously we all know, tough tee shot and then tough second shot over water. 

“No lead is big enough in this tournament. That's really what you want. It will keep everybody focused and sharp this week. I'm hoping that a tougher golf course will play into my hands. I feel like I have been playing well and my ball striking has been solid all year so I feel like this is the kind of venue that will suit me.” 

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1SIEM, MarcelGER18-8
2MOLINARI, FrancescoITA18-7
3JACQUELIN, RaphaëlFRA18-6
T4LYNN, DavidENG18-5
T4HOWELL, DavidENG18-5
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