McIlroy seeks Paris response


Rory McIlroy is among eight major winners in a strong field at the 100th edition of the Open de France this week.

McIlroy missed the cut at the U.S. Open earlier this month and has slipped below Dustin Johnson to fourth in the world rankings after the American ended his wait for a first major at Oakmont.

The Northern Irishman, who last week revealed he will miss the Rio 2016 Olympic Games due to concerns over the Zika virus, will tee off as favourite in Paris on Thursday, as he attempts to rediscover the form that brought him a first Irish Open title in May.

Masters Champion Danny Willett is also in action at Le Golf National's remodelled Albatros course along with the likes of Martin Kaymer, Graeme McDowell, Lee Westwood and defending champion Bernd Wiesberger.



Four-time major champion McIlroy will attempt to banish the memories of his Oakmont failure by securing a first Open de France crown.

Northern Ireland's footballers won plenty of admirers in France with their exploits at Euro 2016 and it will be no surprise if their compatriot McIlroy is successful in Paris.

McIlroy will be in the same opening group as Frenchman Victor Dubuisson and Spaniard Rafa Cabrera Bello in his opening two rounds as he looks to fire a message to his rivals just a fortnight before The Open at Royal Troon.

He said: "I felt like I've always used setbacks well. I've always learned from my mistakes and I think it's been one of the great things about my career that any time I've had a setback, I've usually come back pretty well. There's no reason why I can't do that again."



Willett also heads into the tournament on the back of a missed cut, having failed to make the weekend at the BMW International Open.

The Englishman was handed a medal as well as a bottle of red wine by the French Golf Federation as a result of his Masters triumph and he will be hoping further rewards follow on Sunday.

Race to Dubai leader Willett, aiming to extend his lead over McIlroy, said: "It's been a while since I had the weekend off, but maybe it's what I needed after a long stretch.

"I played terribly on Thursday but it was much more like it on Friday, but I still missed the cut by one. It's a busy schedule coming up, so a bit of respite so perhaps it wasn't the end of the world."



Wiesberger produced a stunning final round of 65 to claim his third European Tour title in this event last year.

The Austrian looks capable of challenging again 12 months on, as he heads into the tournament with a record of finishing in the top 15 in three of his last four events.

A winner by three shots last year, Wiesberger was tied for seventh in the BMW International Open last weekend.



The Albatros course will offer a fresh challenge when it stages the tournament for a 24th time, having been significantly remodelled two years before hosting the Ryder Cup.

With intimidating water hazards, big bunkers to contend with along with narrow and undulating fairways surrounded by thick rough, a strong field will certainly be in for a test.



There will be the added incentive of four places in The Open up for grabs for those not already exempt provided a top-12 finish is achieved on Sunday.

The Open de France also counts as two events played in the Race to Dubai, while enhanced points are on offer for Ryder Cup hopefuls.