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Euro Tour. Alstom Open De France. Two Tied At The Top.

Two players are tied at the top of the leaderboard at the Alstom Open De France at the conclusion of the third round on the Le Golf National course, Paris.

Graeme McDowell  (Getty Images)

Graeme McDowell, joint leader / Getty Images

Graeme McDowell and Richard Sterne share the lead at -5 under par,going into the final round of the Alstom Open de France. Only 18 players managed to finish the third round with an under par score.

Graeme played well and as it was pointed out to him has a great opportunity to win his third event of the season;

“I hadn’t really thought about it but thanks for pointing that out! I hope I have the opportunity. It’s going to be phenomenal come 2018. The last four holes are as dramatic a risk-reward finish as you could imagine with a combination of a natural amphitheater. The 15th and 18th are two phenomenal holes, especially the pin position on 15 today. When the caddie in the group in front put the pin back in the hole on 15 I thought he’d missed the green with it. It looked like it was in the water. I played very nicely today and continued on from where I left off on Thursday and Friday. This course demands fairways and greens, most courses do but this one even more so. Shots off-line here get punished heavily. The greens are very firm. I described it earlier this week as a Scottish or Irish links meets the Players Championship at Sawgrass. It’s got the risk-reward with the water and it’s fast and firm like a links course. It’s a great combination. It’s been a rough couple of months, a few weekends off to contemplate what’s going on, but it’s done nothing but motivate me to work harder and harder and be more hungry for days like tomorrow so I will be excited and looking forward to it.”

Richard was well pleased with his 71 today;

“I’m very pleased with 71 in the end. This course can bite you in a lot of places and the finish here is probably the toughest on the tour. This golf course tends to do that, guys don’t keep on going low. There are a lot of guys bunched up. Someone can come from further back but hopefully I get off to a good start again tomorrow and keep it going.”

Tied in third place are Richard Green, Bernd Wiesberger and David Howell, all with a tournament total  of -4 under par.

David said it was hard going today;

” It was not that pretty to be honest today, I could not have got much more out of that round. I dodged a few bullets and did not feel particularly comfortable so I’m delighted to get round in 69.”

It is still anybody’s tournament, and it will be great fun to watch it all unfold tomorrow.

Euro Tour. Alstom Open De France.Fabrizio Zanotti Leads.

Fabrizio Zanotti leads the Alstom Open De France at the conclusion of the second round at the Le Golf National course in Paris. Early fog at Le Golf National outside Paris meant a one-hour delay this morning.

Fabrizio Zanotti  (Getty Images)

Fabrizio Zanotti / Getty Images

Fabrizio carded  a second consecutive round of 68 to lead by one shot, with a tournament total of -6 under par. He said he was very happy with the situation;

” I’m very happy, I struggled a little from the tee but I putted very well during the day and pretty happy with the round. It was pretty tough out there, and the course is playing very hard, so very happy. I think it’s a very good score, so I will try to keep playing like this and just have fun. I haven’t played very well during the year, but I’m working very hard and I think this is because of all the work, I am always positive. It’s pretty tough to keep working when you are not playing good, but that is the way all the guys play good, so you have to keep working to get where you want. On a course like this, I think that you have to accept everything. It’s playing very tough and the greens are getting hard, so it’s going to be very hard. Like I said, keep patient and have fun, there is no other way.”

There is a three-way tie in second place at -5 under par, they are Richard Sterne, Thomas Björn and  Søren Kjeldsen.

Richard said he lost concentration half way round, but then recovered well;

” It was a good finish to the day, I started off well and kind of fell asleep halfway. I made a couple of weak bogeys from the fairway, and I had a good finish.I hit good shots and I made good putts at the right time. I think I needed to finish strong to give myself a chance going into the weekend.”

Soren was just happy to be in contention;

” I haven’t really been in contention in any tournaments this year, so this is a massive bonus. You’re not going to get me to talk about winning and stuff like that, certainly not now. I’m just enjoying playing good golf, and hopefully I can keep going.”

Someone else who is happy to be in contention is Graeme McDowell, who has not been playing too well lately, but is a group of players at -4 under par;

“I’m playing this golf course the way it’s supposed to be played, fairways and greens. Once you start hitting it off-line it will punish you.I just have not got the putter revved up but I am well in touch and right where I need to be. It’s been a rough couple of months for me. I’ve not been playing the kind of golf I’d like to and the key to this week was to come and get myself in the mix for the weekend and get some of the juices flowing again. I’m excited for the weekend and to make a cut really. It feels like a step in the right direction. I certainly know what to do when I put myself in these positions. I just have not had the opportunity to do it lately. I’m probably on one of my worst missed cut runs in a while. It’s nice to break that, first and foremost, and be on the leaderboard.”

 

 

 

Alstom Open De France. Hansen Leads

Anders Hansen leads the Alstom Open De France with a -5 under par 65 to lead by one shot at the Le Golf National course in Paris.

Anders Hansen   (Getty Images)

Anders Hansen / Getty Images

Anders defied a hand injury and testing conditions at Le Golf National to take a one shot lead after the opening round of the Alstom Open de France. He will undergo surgery in Zurich next week to try and overcome the long-standing hand problem. This course is good enough for the Ryder Cup, in his opinion;

“I’m telling you, it’s a great venue for The Ryder Cup. The course is set up perfect for it. The spectators get such a good view and it’s such a great finish to the round. I think it’s going to be a great venue. It is a tough course,  the greens are pretty firm and it’s tight out there. There’s hardly any wind, and you see the scores aren’t that great. I played actually really solid from tee to green,  I think I only missed two or three greens. I putted quite well, so just sort of all came together. At some stage it seemed a bit easy, but this course gets your attention and next thing you know, you’re making bogeys.”

Of his long-term battle with the hand injury, he is hoping that this surgery will be a quick fix;

I’ve had it for years and years and years,  they are going in three different places and they are going to remove a cyst I have here and clean this up and hopefully there’s a 50/50 chance it’s going to be okay. The other thing is to take the whole bone out and cut it a bit, but that’s a big operation and I would be out for six months, so we are hoping to do that and it’s going to be good enough. It’s just wear and tear from hitting too many golf balls.”

Frenchman Romain Wattel is in second place at -4 under par, he wants to play well in front of the home crowd;

“You are in front of the French crowds, so you want to be good, you want to play great golf and so there is pressure on me. I’m trying to play my best and just focus on the shot I have to play, that’s the only thing I can do.”

Martin Kaymer was part of a nine-strong group on three under par, while defending Champion Marcel Siem sadly signed for a first round of 78.

Alstom Open de France, Marcel Siem Wins

Super Siem overcomes Molinari magic

Marcel Siem (Getty Images)

Marcel Siem of Germany won the Alstom Open de France at Le Golf National in Paris. It is Marcel’s second European tour win, and he had to fend off a charging Francesco Molinari to get it. Francesco fired a last round -7 under par 64, the lowest round of the week to finish just one shot behind Marcel. The new champion had a very respectable last round of -4 under par 67 in the blustery conditions for his -8 under par total and to lift the trophy. With this win Marcel also gains a place in The Open Championship at Royal Lytham and St Annes, and becomes the third German to have triumphed at this event after Bernhard Langer and Martin Kaymer. Marcel was extremely happy with his win;

“I’m so happy, this means a lot to me.First, after eight years it doesn’t matter what kind of tournament you won, it’s huge because you’ve got the confidence again. Every time I’ve played consistent golf this year, and there were so many times up there, I couldn’t make it.  Stupid things happened the whole time. It means so much to me to win after that long stretch. It’s all about winning in the end and it puts so much pressure every time you don’t win and people start talking, you will never win again and stuff like that, so it’s very important for me. I love this golf course. I always loved it and I love it even more or even better now. I’m super happy. I was very nervous, I have to say, after 14 when I made the up and down out of the trap. The last stretch is one of the toughest stretches we have on Tour. In Cologne at last month’s BMW International Open, I hit it in the water on seven, when in the last round I was leading.  But I made great golf shots. I hit it close on 15, made a good shot on 16 that wouldn’t drop and even 17, hit the flag. I stayed very calm. That was very nice. Now I’ve got the win it’s going to make me relax a lot more now.”

Francesco enjoyed his unbelievable last round;

” It’s been just an unbelievable day really. I had a really bad start, but two years ago when I finished second here, I doubled the first on the last day. From then on, it was just great golf. I had a couple of good breaks and finally a lot of putts going in the hole. I was in the moment, in the zone and I wasn’t really counting the birdies. The game has been feeling well all week and everything was coming out perfect.”

The home crowd favourite Raphaël Jacquelin claimed the third spot on six under par, with the English trio of David Lynn, Ian Poulter and David Howell a shot further back in fourth place.

The World’s Number Three ranked player Lee Westwood climbed 18 places to 40th with a closing 70, just a  a day after it looked as if he might be pulling out with knee and groin trouble after he slipped walking to the first tee. Lee said;

“The leg is fine , it wasn’t a problem today. “

Alstom Open de France, 2nd round, Marcel Siem Leads

 

 

Siem holds slender advantage

Marcel Siem (Getty Images

Germany’s Marcel Siem leads after the second round of the Alstom Open de France,  at Le Golf National in Paris. Marcel has a one shot lead over Alexander Noren of Sweden, who at one time joined Marcel at the top until he  found water at the last and made bogey.

Marcel is hoping he can keep going, after two rounds of -3 under par and tournament total of -6 under;

 “If you shoot a few under on the golf course, it doesn’t matter what are the conditions, it’s a good score. I’ve shot two times three under now, so I’m very happy and I hope I keep it going like that. “

A mid afternoon suspension of play for a lightning storm came at the right time for Marcel;

“I had just made double bogey before that. Then on 18, would have been my first shot after the lightning. I was a bit steamy there, and actually it was good for me I reckon that we got called off the course. It was nearly flat calm in the end. On the last four holes, there was a little breeze off the left, half a club of wind. It was very comfortable and nice to play and I’m really happy that I made something out of it.”

Alexander was also happy to be amongst  the later starters;

” It was tough the first nine holes, and then we got really lucky on the back nine. I hit a lot of fairways and a lot of greens, and then got a lot of good putts on the back nine coming in, so it was a steady round and I’m really pleased.”

Anders Hansen is just four shots off the lead, he said;

“I’m very proud of myself to keep doing what I’ve done, even though there’s a few shots that didn’t come as I wanted them to, but all in all, I’m still in the learning process of trying to figure this thing out. To go out on a course like this with a few new things in the golf swing is not exactly easy. When you get out there, you have to trust what you’re doing.”

Lee Westwood, at +1 over par,  is still having his problems with the course, but feels he is still not out of contention;

“It’s that kind of golf course.  You don’t have to be far off. I would liked to have played a bit better coming in but I’m not out of it.”

Alstom Open de France, 1st round, Christian Nilsson Leads

Sweden’s Christian Nilsson leads the Alstom Open de France after the first round at Le Golf National in Paris. His opening round of -6 under par 65, on the par 71 layout, gives him a one shot advantage over three other competitors. The players tied for second spot on -5 under par are; England’s Gary Boyd, Italy’s teenager Matteo Manassero  and Thongchai Jaidee from Thailand.

Christian Nilsson  (Getty Images)

Christian Nilsson (Getty Images)

Christian said in interview;

“It’s been a struggle for me so far this year. My long game was pretty bad, but it’s improved and this is good for my confidence. I’ve been very patient I think. I’ve been practising on things I believe in and just waiting for something to happen, finally looks like it did.”

Gary Boyd referred to the terrible round he had at Celtic Manor;

“That was a bit of a disaster, but I’ve had a lot of positive signs the last three weeks. I’m working on the right things I feel and am getting comfortable again. My game wasn’t where it needed to be and it was time to take a time-out.”

Matteo was happy with his round;

“It was a very good round, everything was going the right direction, the way I wanted. You have to give yourself the most opportunities for birdies that you can, and I didn’t feel like I putted that well, but I was solid and I made some of those chances.”

England’s World Number Three Lee Westwood recovered from four over after six holes and from playing one shot while standing in a lake, to match Open Champion Darren Clarke’s 70. Lee said he did not do too much wrong;

 “I didn’t do much wrong to be four over, but there’s not a lot of panic in me any more , I haven’t got much time for that. It was not going my way, but you just have to get it out of your mind.”

Of the water adventure on hole nine, Lee remembered Thomas Levet jumping in the lake and breaking his leg after winning last year,  he said;

” I didn’t know what was in there, I’ve got plenty of shoes with me.”

Darren Clark, who made his first cut of the year at Royal Portrush last Friday, managed to mix five birdies, two of them in the dangerous last three holes , with two bogey sixes and a double bogey six, for his -1 under par round of 70.

Lee Westwood, World Number Three, heads back to France

Lee Westwood  (Getty Images)

World Number Three Lee Westwood (Getty Images)

World Number Three Lee Westwood returns to contest the Alstom Open de France next week in what appears to be one of the strongest fields in the history of this tournament.

Lee is seeking  back-to-back victories on European soil after capturing  his 22nd European Tour title in the Nordea Masters in Sweden at the start of the month, just before he achieved a top ten finish in the US Open Championship at Olympic Club. He has a strong record in the Alstom Open de France, with four top ten finishes in nine appearances. He really came close to winning this title at the Le Golf National in 2009, eventually losing in a play-off to Germany’s Martin Kaymer. Martin will  join Lee in the field next week, along with  four other players who currently occupy Ryder Cup spots, they are;

Race to Dubai leader Justin Rose, 2010 US Open Champion Graeme McDowell, Swede Peter Hanson and Spaniard Gonzalo Fernandez-Castaño. Other players from the Worlds top fifty rankings are, Englishman Ian Poulter and Scotland’s Martin Laird, Graeme McDowell and European Ryder Cup Captain José María Olazábal, who was the 2001 champion in this tournament. There will also be an appearance from  Open Champion Darren Clarke, who is in a group of those players travelling from this week’s Irish Open at Royal Portrush Golf Club.

The defending champion is Frenchman Thomas Levet, the former Ryder Cup player who delighted the home support last year when he finished one shot clear of Dane Thorbjørn Olesen and Englishman Mark Foster to lift the trophy. The victory for Thomas came in front of packed galleries, just six weeks after Le Golf National was awarded The 2018 Ryder Cup.

I am a great fan of Thomas Levet, he used to pay at my club in Berkshire, England when I lived there. His son went to the same school as my grandson, and a more pleasant fellow and Professional golfer you could not wish to meet.

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