Marcel Siem (Getty Images)
Marcel Siem is aiming to draw on his fond memories of Le Golf National when his Alstom Open de France title defence begins on Thursday.
The 32 year old German overcame a stellar field including the likes of Francesco Molinari, Ian Poulter, Henrik Stenson and home favourite Raphaël Jacquelin 12 months ago, and knows he will need to be on top form again this week with 11 of the Official World Golf Ranking’s top 50 in attendance.
“It was fantastic - last year when I left, it was super sunny and great weather,” Siem recalled. “I arrived here and it was not the best weather, but straightaway, you feel the atmosphere again and all the memories from last year.
“After the prize ceremony, I was sitting in the restaurant and had a glass of champagne with my wife and my caddie, and David Probyn came over, as well, and all those pictures came back and it was fantastic.
“Winning a tournament is always nice, but I think to win this one, and especially Raphaël Jacquelin, Stenson contending.
“So there was a lot of pressure, very intense, and when you have the stadium around the 18th with all the spectators, it's very special. It's very cool.
“It's a fantastic field and I think they did a great job to get this field, and a lot of big guns playing this week, and just try to compete against them and try to lift the trophy again.”
Siem has since gone on to add a third European Tour title to his collection in Morocco, but with his first victory coming back in 2004 it has some time since he last tried to retain a title.
“It's nine years ago that I defended a title, so it's going to be something new for me - I just want to really enjoy it,” he added.
“I'm not that nervous anymore in big tournaments, which helps to play better. I just hope I have a good start again, because this was a little bit of a few hiccups all year.
“Morocco was the only tournament where I had a great start and won it, and it's always nice, especially for me, to keep being relaxed in a way. So a good round on Thursday helps and to play better golf, maybe don't try to force too much.
“You really have to be on top of things, on top of your game. Every hole you have to get one side out of play, and most of the time, left is the danger.
“It's just so intense, every shot you have to be careful what you do, and I just love that. You have to think your way around the golf course.”
Siem is not the only former German winner in the field, with Ryder Cup star Martin Kaymer trying to regain the title he won in 2009.
“It’s a very exciting finish, but a very fair golf course,” said Kaymer. “Therefore it’s very exciting for the spectators and for us players – it’s never over.”