Irish trio looking for form as Open de France makes welcome return

Ronan MacNamara

Niall Kearney (Photo by Johannes Simon/Getty Images)

Ronan MacNamara

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The Open de France is continental Europe’s oldest national Open and has formed part of the DP World Tour’s schedule since its inception in 1972. First played in 1906, this famous championship makes a welcome return after a Covid-enforced two-year hiatus. 

Belgium’s Nicolas Colsaerts will make his long-awaited title defence having arrested a seven-year winless run. But a lot has changed for him since then with the big hitting Belgian battling a diagnosis of membranous nephropathy, which occurs when the small blood vessels in the kidney become damaged and thickened. Proteins then leak from the damaged blood vessels into the urine. There is no certain cure. 

Le Golf National has cemented its place in golfing folklore, most recently playing host to the 2018 Ryder Cup where our friends Stateside didn’t a particular liking to their surroundings. 

For the likes of Francesco Molinari and Tommy Fleetwood (Moliwood) it was perhaps their finest hour in the biennial contest and for the latter, his career. 

LIV outcast Patrick Reed, the self-proclaimed top-5 golfer in the world arrives as a man on a mission needing a top-5 finish to avoid slipping outside the coveted world’s top-50 for the first time in almost nine years. 

The 2017 Masters champion loves to play the pantomime villain and you wouldn’t put it past him to emerge victorious on the week of the Presidents Cup – his performance in Wentworth is enough to suggest he has the bit between his teeth. 

If any event represents the decline of the DP World Tour it is the Open de France, now plagued by the infamous Cazoo sponsor that seems to be dipping its toes into every corner of elite sport. Thomas Pieters and Ryan Fox – who somehow was omitted from Trevor Immelman’s revised President’s Cup picks – join Reed as the only members of the OWGR top-50. 

While the KPMG Women’s Irish Open will draw much of the attention this week in Dromoland Castle, Jonathan Caldwell, Niall Kearney and Cormac Sharvin will be hoping to swoop in under the radar. 

With such a brutally tough test set for the players this week, Le Golf National is hardly the place to come looking for form but Gavin Moynihan achieved a top-5 finish here three years ago so it can be done. 

Clandeboye man Caldwell is looking to get back on the horse after successive missed cuts at Wentworth and the Italian Open. The 38-year-old tees off alongside DP World Tour veterans Scott Hend and Stephen Gallacher. 

At 174th in the Race to Dubai, Royal Dublin’s Kearney is in need of a good finish to really kickstart his bid for full playing privileges. Successive rounds of 74 damaged his weekend in Rome and he needs to find his form if he is to mount a late charge. 

Kearney tees off with Pep Angles and Oihan Guillamoundeguy. 

Ardglass man Sharvin hasn’t kicked on since that stunning 66 gave him a career-high 13th place finish in Prague, missing two cuts and withdrawing from one event since. 

The 29-year-old is one of the late afternoon groups alongside Richard McEvoy and Angel Hidalgo. 

Listen to this week’s Irish Golfer Podcast

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