Open de France Betting Tips
Robert Cobley is a maths graduate with years of experience in the sports betting industry. He has now teamed up with Bet UK to bring his golf betting tips to our readers.
Le Golf Nacional, Albatros Course - Guyancourt, France - Par 71, 7,250 Yards
The Open de France is traditionally one of the strongest and most well supported events on the European Tour. Having been played for the first time back in 1906, the list of winners is a who's who of the biggest names in European golf including the likes of Tony Jacklin, Bernhard Langer, Greg Norman Nick Faldo (3 times), and the late Seve Ballesteros (4 times). The venue has changed over the years, and Le Golf Nacional, home of the 2018 Ryder Cup, has been the host course since 1991. It will also host the 2024 Olympic Games.
The Albatros Course is a real gem and widely recognised as one of the best Championship courses in continental Europe. Set just 20 miles south west of the centre of Paris, there are three courses on site, of which this is the most revered. A stadium course that can accommodate 80,000 people on steep embankments that line the holes, the Albatros combines the feel of a traditional links type course (although set inland), with the more modern type of target golf to make for an exhilarating and very challenging test of golf. The fairways are tight and the rough, particularly the second cut, is thick should players not keep their ball in the short grass. There are also, unusually for an inland course, deep links like bunkers in the landing areas for the players to avoid, so we will likely see a lot of three woods from the tee as the medium hitters try to stay short of these. If you go in one of these bunkers you lose a shot, quite simply. The greens are large, fast, bentgrass surfaces that usually slope from back to front meaning the players will want to stay short of the hole with their approach shots wherever possible.
The final four holes at Le Golf Nacional are renowned for their difficulty with the large lake coming into play on 15, 16 and 18. These usually create a fantastically dramatic finish when scores are tight. There are three par 5s which are all reachable and provide a rare scoring opportunity for the players on a course where winning scores are always amongst the highest on the Tour. With wind often a big factor, the keys to success this week are greens in regulation, or the ability to get up and down across the large putting surfaces. I'll be looking at straight hitters and solid iron players. Course form is usually very important here, and I'll also be looking at in form players who have performed well previously here. With the event being played here each year, we have a lot of course form.
Last Five Winners:
The Market Leaders
Sweden's course specialist Alex Noren (11/1) comes into this week as the bookies favourite in what is a disappointingly weak field with the event being pushed so far back into the year showing its impact on those willing and able to turn up and play. Noren nonetheless is a worthwhile favourite, and the lack of challengers at the top of the market makes his price fair, despite relatively poor form this season. Noren is a great driver of the ball and a solid wind player. He sits in the top 20 for distance from the tee and for total driving so it is easy to see why this course suits him. In recent years he has posted back to back top10s, and followed that up with a one stroke victory here last year. Noren's recent form is unspectacular, but he has managed to post top 30 finishes in his last three events. I expect similar here, but I won't be backing him to retain his title.
Behind Noren we have South African Eric Van Rooyen (12/1). Van Rooyan has become the cool kid on the block with punters keen to back him almost every week, particularly following his maiden Tour win at the Scandinavian Invitation at the Hills Golf Club back in August. Van Rooyen is a solid all round player, and he has produced some good finishes since that win including top 15s at the BMW PGA and European Masters on very contrasting golf courses. Last week's 10th place at the Italian Open was equally solid. That said, Eric only has one appearance at Golf Nacional where he missed the cut last year. With course form so critical Van Rooyen is easy to leave alone this week.
Joost Luiten (16/1) has been playing some better golf of late after a slow season. He has made his last six cuts and posted a top 10 at the KLM Open on a similarly exposed venue in the Netherlands last month. His format at Golf Nacional is solid with a 9th place in 2016 the stand out result. It would, however be too great a leap of faith to back him to win this week. Young Austrian Matthias Schwab has had a very impressive year on Tour, adding a 4th place last week in Italy to a 2nd behind Paul Casey at the European Open. His previous two starts also yielded top 10 finishes. On his first visit here last year he was a respectable 37th and with this progressive form he cannot be ruled out. Thonas Pieters (18/1) has not quite reached the heights I would have expected following his win at the Czech Masters on, interestingly, a course also named the Albatros. Since then he has posted just one top 10. He is a regular visitor here with a highest finish of 13th back in 2017. I did consider him this week but the price was just too short. He isn't without a chance.
Rob’s Golf Betting Tips
Headline Betting Tip
England's Callum Shinkwin, a former top amateur boxer, is a player I've had the privilege of meeting on a couple of occasions, including after his narrow playoff loss at the 2017 Scottish Open, and I expect big things of the likeable 26 year old over the next few years. Shinkwin, as you might expect given his past career, hits the ball miles, generally straight, and plays links or links like venues very well. That 2nd place at Dundonald would have been a win but for a 6 on the closing hole, and I really fancy Callum to excel at this venue. He has played here three times previously and posted a top 10 in his first start here in 2016. If he plays well the venue Albatros Course should fit his game perfectly.
Up until a few weeks ago, Shinkwin seemed to be really struggling with his game. A missed cut at the Czech Masters was followed by followed by withdrawals at the Scandinavian and European Opens, however all of a sudden his game has burst into life over the last three weeks. A 5th place at the KLM Open where he shared the lead with Sergio Garcia going into the final round was disappointing as he stumbled on the front 9, but he was able to quickly follow that up with another top 10 at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship two weeks later on 18 under par. Those performances on primarily links like venues give me huge confidence in picking Callum as my headline selection this week, and I recommend having 2 points e/w at 55/1.
Other Betting Tips
Home player Victor Perez edged out England's Matthew Southgate at that Dunhill Links tournament to take his first ever Tour title, and it is unlikely to be his last. The tall Frenchman is a beautiful ball striker and can perform well at any venue type, but I think that Golf Nacional should suit him particularly well. Perez can control his ball well in wind, can flight it high and low, and keeps it straight enough to negate the majority of the hazards that this course has to offer.
The concerns for Perez come in that he has occasionally been found wanting on and around the greens. His three putt avoidance is outside the top 100, as is his scrambling; both of which will have to be at their best to avoid regular dropped shots here. The long game I am comfortable with, and with the weaker parts of his game looking so much better in Scotland, I'm prepared to disregard his missed cut on his first visit here last year and back him with 2 points e/w at 40/1.
Swashbuckling Spaniard Adrian Otaegui has not been living up to his reputation over the last three months. Despite being only 26, Otaegui can quite reasonably be accused of not fulfilling his potential so far having first appeared on Tour in this event seven years ago. He fits a similar profile to fellow Spaniard Pablo Larrazabal who loved this venue, and held off Colin Montgomerie for his maiden Tour win here back in 2005. In recent weeks signs of that form have, however, been far away as Otaegui has missed six consecutive cuts before slight improvements at the Spanish and Italian Opens where he made the weekend, but failed to contend.
What I do like about Adrian is that I see in him an ability to come from nowhere and contend, much like Larrazabal. In both of the last two weeks, and the majority of the missed cuts, it has been just the one bad round that has spoiled an otherwise reasonable showing. His game suits this course, he is another who is great from the tee, and has a solid iron game suited to contending in tougher conditions. Over the past two years, Otaegui has finished 7th and 12th here in far stronger fields, and I'm encouraged enough to back home with just 1 point e/w at 80/1.
England's James Morrison has had two of his career best performances at Golf Nacional with finishes of 7th and 2nd in 2011 and 2015 respectively. Morrison is an exceptional wind player and although some parts of his game are more limited, he has been able to pick up two career European Tour titles, and has shown strong form again coming into this week. At the KLM Open on a similarly blustery inland course he finished a shot ahead of Shinkwin in 4th place, and he followed that with a closing 65 to enter the top 15 at last week's Italian Open. Morrison isn't afraid to win and a couple of solid short game rounds here, with his long game, could well see him get into contention. He is another who should not be such a long price in this field, and I'll be having 1 point e/w at 90/1.
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*All odds from Bet UK’s online betting markets correct at the time of writing.
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