European and American Ryder Cup hopefuls will get an early taste of Le Golf National’s stern challenge as the European Tour heads to Paris for the HNA Open de France.
With Thomas Bjørn sure to be watching closely, the HNA Open de France offers a great opportunity for players to show they can perform around the Ryder Cup hosting venue and put forward their case for selection.
There are a whole host of Europeans battling it out for a place in Bjørn’s side in Paris, including Rafa Cabrera-Bello, Tommy Fleetwood, Sergio Garcia, Tyrrell Hatton and Alex Noren.
Fleetwood will be looking to go back to back at the HNA Open de France, as he claimed a one shot victory over America’s Peter Uihlein at the 2017 playing of the event. Another strong performance this year and Fleetwood will surely have the mental advantage over his competitors in September.
Thorbjørn Olesen (T3) and Ross Fisher (T7) also performed at last year’s event and will be hoping to recapture that form again this year, as they are both on the bubble of automatic qualification.
Olesen already has Rolex Series event win to his name after his victory at the Italian Open and will be aiming to carry some of this form into the week at Le Golf National.
Belgium’s Thomas Pieters also features in the field this week. Arguably Europe’s star of The 2016 Ryder Cup, the big hitting Belgian will be looking to improve on last year’s T13 finish and make his way up the Ryder Cup Rankings, in a bid to make his second appearance on Team Europe.
Two of Bjørn’s vice captains also have impressive records around Le Golf National, which can only be a positive for the Europeans come September.
First up, Graeme McDowell won the event in back to back years in 2013 and 2014 with two stellar performances around the water hazard filled golf course. Lee Westwood also has positive memories of Le Golf National over the past two years with a T11 finish in 2016, followed up by a T10 finish the year after.
Both vice captains will be looking to use their past experiences around this course to help Europe regain the Ryder Cup.
It isn’t only the Europeans taking advantage of the HNA Open de France to get an early glimpse of the test Le Golf National possesses, though.
America’s Justin Thomas is also in the field in Paris, with the 2017 FedEx Cup champion looking a likely automatic inclusion in the American side.
"I'm excited to see the course and go check it out a little bit," Thomas said ahead of his second appearance on the European Tour.
"It's not like a Ryder Cup or a Presidents Cup in the States where we can just pop over and play when we want. I'm hoping to get some good vibes from it and learn a few things about the course. It is always good to help provide any information that might help our team prepare."
The first groups at the HNA Open de France will tee it up on June 28, with Bjørn sure to be keeping a close eye on proceedings.