Ryder Cup stars set for Le Golf National

7/1/2013 9:57:00 AM
Luke Donald  (Getty Images)
Luke Donald (Getty Images)

It might be another five years until Le Golf National hosts golf’s most prestigious team competition, but there will be a distinct Ryder Cup feel at this week’s Alstom Open de France.

Six of Europe’s heroes from the ‘Miracle at Medinah’ are in the field for the 97th staging of continental Europe’s oldest national Open, along with World Number Five Matt Kuchar, who was part of the United States team at The 2012 Ryder Cup.

Kuchar is making his debut in the event, joining Europeans Luke Donald, Martin Kaymer, Paul Lawrie, Graeme McDowell, Francesco Molinari and Ian Poulter in competing for the €3million prize fund.

World Number Eight Donald returns to action in the French capital Paris after finishing tied eighth at the US Open three weeks ago, where he played alongside winner Justin Rose in the final round.  

Donald last appeared in the Alstom Open de France in 2010, finishing tied 11th as Spaniard Miguel Angel Jiménez won the title.

The year before that it was German Kaymer who triumphed, defeating Ryder Cup team-mate Lee Westwood in a play-off.

The former World Number One, who clinched the point that ensured Europe retained The Ryder Cup, heads to Le Golf National on the back of a tied fourth place finish in his own national Open, the BMW International Open in Munich a fortnight ago.

It is Kaymer’s compatriot Marcel Siem who is the defending champion this week, having held off a stunning final round charge from Italian Molinari 12 months ago.

Molinari fired nine birdies in a final round 64, but he missed out by one shot as Siem held his nerve down Le Golf National’s tough closing stretch to capture his second European Tour title with a closing 67.

Siem succeeded Thomas Levet as champion, and Levet will once again be part of a strong French challenge, which also includes Raphaël Jacquelin, winner of the Open de España in April, who was third last year.

Continuing the Ryder Cup theme, Europe’s victorious captain in 2012, José María Olazábal, will be hoping to build on his tied fifth place finish in last week’s Irish Open.

The Spaniard won the Open de France in 2001, albeit when the event was played at Lyon GC, to join his close friend Seve Ballesteros as a champion, Ballesteros having won four times (in 1977, 1982, 1985 and 1986).  

Another Spaniard and former champion, Pablo Larrazábal, also heads to France in good form after finishing fourth at Carton House on Sunday.

Larrazábal had to qualify to play in the 2008 event and became the first qualifier to win the Alstom Open de France and just the then seventh qualifier in the history of The European Tour to win an event.