Donaldson to pass French test
David John says Jamie Donaldson can back up last week's good form in Germany at the Alstom Open de France.
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As the birdies flew in last week at the BMW International and 19 under was needed to get into the play-off, this week's Alstom Open de France is likely to be a far sterner examination paper.
Le Golf National will host the 2018 Ryder Cup and the way the course has matured over recent years has garnered huge praise from players with a number considering it one of the very best stops on the schedule.
- 3pts win Jamie Donaldson at 25/1 (General) - Game in good shape and this testing layout will suit his style.
- 1pt e.w. Simon Dyson at 45/1 (1/4 1,2,3,4,5 bet365, Sky Bet) - Hard work in the spring now paying off with some positive results.
- 1pt e.w. Robert-Jan Derksen at 100/1 (1/4 1,2,3,4,5,6 Stan James) - Final season on Tour is going well and form at this venue.
- 1pt e.w. Robert-Jan Derksen to be first round leader at 80/1 (1/4 1,2,3,4 Stan James) - Brisk opening here previously along with some fast starts in 2014.
How the test has become more demanding is illustrated over the past three years with the winner failing to reach double figures under the card and a closing stretch around and over a water which can result in huge swings in fortune one way or another.
I reckon the tougher the venue the better for Jamie Donaldson and a victory this week would almost certainly cement his place in Paul McGinley's Ryder Cup team for Gleneagles.
Donaldson was among those shooting the lights out last week near Cologne and missed out by just one shot on the extra holes to decide the title.
As mentioned, I don't think that will have any great bearing on what is required in this event but it showed the Welshman to be in top form following his disappointing halfway exit at the US Open which involved some bizarre shenanigans playing the wrong ball with Hunter Mahan.
Donaldson mixed it with the top echelon very successfully earlier in the year over the difficult Doral layout in the WGC-Cadillac Championship when chasing home Patrick Reed and I would be pretty confident of him producing his best effort since that considering both last week's tune up and a T6 here 12 months ago.
That was the Welshman's first top 10 in Paris and the fact this will be his seventh straight year in the event is a very valuable asset in terms of understanding the nuances of the course.
Like Donaldson, Simon Dyson is a regular in this event and he also tees it up this week on the back of his best effort (5th) 12 months ago.
"It's such a fantastic test of golf and it's going to be a fantastic Ryder Cup venue," was Dyson's assessment and with a couple of T5 finishes at Wentworth and last week, it looks like the Yorkshireman has hit form at the right time.
He spoke at the former venue about how he had been working hard on his game over the spring and results certainly suggest that his efforts are beginning to pay off.
He seems to have put the well-documented incident on a green at last year's BMW Championship well behind him and can concentrate once again on getting back in the winner's circle for the first time since 2011.
Past winner Martin Kaymer is the 9/1 favourite and will be much better suited to this week's test having missed the cut on home soil following his victory at the US Open.
I'm still not that taken by his odds, or those of defending champion Graeme McDowell at 12/1, who couldn't really find any touch with the putter in the closing round of the Irish open at Fota Island.
So at a much bigger price, I am tempted to take a chance on Robert Jan-Derksen to follow up a recent top-five success at the Nordea Masters.
As far as I am aware, he still intends to knock the European Tour on the head at the end of the year in favour of retirement but is certainly giving it a good go if this is to be his farewell season.
Perhaps having made the decision has loosened the shackles a bit and his form has benefited as a result. He has only missed one cut in 11 events and a consistent record of form in this event hints that he could go well again.
A win before he departs would be the stuff of a dreams - and maybe asking a bit too much - but I see no reason why he can't get in contention this weekend on a course where he carded a 63 in 2010.
That was for openers while in 2009 he was out of the blocks with a 67. He has started tidily on numerous occasions this year and could well be worth a shot in the first-round leader market on this occasion as well.