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Alstom Open De France Preview

Coral have installed Martin Kaymer as their 12/1 favourite for the Alstom French Open, starting on Thursday at Le Golf National, near Paris, and it is easy to see why.

The 28-year-old German has, for the most part, been in steady decline since winning the USPGA in 2010 and reaching number 1 in the world rankings the following spring and now languishes outside the top 30.

But we all know the talent is still there, along with, when required, the nerves of steel which helped him hole the Ryder Cup-winning putt at Medinah last year. And we also know that the French Open brings out the best in Kaymer; he won it in 2009 and has enjoyed three other top-ten finishes at the demanding 7,331-yard par 72 lay-out (water, water everywhere and a really tough finish).

Fourth place in the recent BMW International Open in Munich hints at another good showing in France and it will be disappointing for the Kaymer camp if he isn’t in the mix over the weekend.

That said, this is an extremely competitive field with several others boasting excellent course form, including previous winners Pablo Larrazabal (33/1) and defending champion Marcel Siem (40/1). Francesco Molinari (25/1) has finished runner-up in two of the last three years and Ian Poulter (22/1) has had four top-ten finishes from six attempts. There is a strong and proud home contingent, too, of course, headed by last year’s third, Raphael Jacquelin (50/1).

Larrazabal played really well in the Irish Open last week, fading a little on the final day to finish fourth, and again makes plenty of each-way appeal, as does fellow Spaniard Alejandro Canizares (80/1) – runner-up in this tournament in 2010 – who also put up a good showing at Carton House. And the Dane Anders Hansen (66/1) is another who did enough in Co. Kildare to suggest he is ready for the leaderboard again.

Luke Donald, Coral’s second favourite at 14/1, is another former world number 1 retreating down the charts (he’s now ranked 8) and a first win of 2013 would be most welcome for the 35-year-old Englishman on a rare visit to France.

As one would expect, it will be mainly Europeans competing for this prestigious prize, but a notable exception is the laid-back American Matt Kuchar. There are many different ways of preparing for the Open Championship (now just two weeks away) and this is Kuchar’s preferred route, while Phil Mickelson and perhaps Ernie Els, for instance, will warm up for Muirfield at next week’s Scottish Open.

Ranked 5 in the world, Kuchar is, on paper, the best player pegging it up in France this weekend and as such is attractively priced by Coral at 18/1, but, win or lose, his presence will be very much appreciated.

Written by Jon Freeman