Raphael Jacquelin (Getty Images)
Raphaël Jacquelin is ready to lead the French revolution at Le Golf National as he looks to become only the seventh Frenchman in the tournament’s 108 year history to lift the famous old trophy.
The current French Number One, Jacquelin came close to following Thomas Levet’s unforgettable victory of 2011 last year when three consecutive front nine birdies in the final round thrust him into contention.
With the French crowd roaring Jacquelin home, the 39 year old finished the week in third spot, two strokes shy of eventual champion Marcel Siem and one behind Francesco Molinari.
Twelve months on, Jacquelin feels his game is in good enough shape to take on all comers in one of The European Tour’s most formidable arenas at Le Golf National and he is ready to lead the 22-strong home challenge.
“I am confident that I can play well this week and really make a challenge for the title,” said Jacquelin. “I am really looking forward to it so I think I can do something and I just want to feel the support of the French people.
“Last year when I made the three birdies on five six and seven I could feel the support of the people willing me to try and win and it is just an amazing feeling to that in front of big crowd in your home country.
“This tournament is definitely like a Major for the French players and the golf course really adds to that feeling because it is as tough as many of the venues where we play Major Championships. It is in magnificent condition again this year.”
Jacquelin has won before around Le Golf National – at the 1993 French Junior Championships.
“Unfortunately, between ’93 and last year I didn’t too well,” smiled the Frenchman, “But as I said before I am hitting the ball great and really feel that I can get into contention and hopefully get the crowd behind me.
No-one knows that support better than Levet, who so memorably captured his national open two years ago at Le Golf National.
“It’s always nice to come back here for me,” said Levet. “It's going to be quite crazy with the French crowds, they are really behind the French players, and obviously because I won two years ago, people will always remember that.
“Even today in the Pro Am, the people came to the first tee to see to see me and it is always special for me to return to Le Golf National.”