Three of the seven Rolex Series events will be contested over the next three weeks as a lead-in to the 147th Open Championship at Carnoustie. The first of these elite events is the Open De France, also known as the French Open. It’s the oldest national golf open on Continental Europe and will be contested once again at Le Golf National, its home since 1991.
The field in Paris is headlined by five players ranked in the world top 20, including three top-10 stars – each of whom are included in the power picks.
1. JUSTIN THOMAS
Leading the way is world No. 2 Justin Thomas, who is coming off a T56 at the Travelers Championship – his first finish outside the top 25. Thomas will attempt a reset in what will be his first European Tour start since an appearance at the Alfred Dunhills Links Championship in 2013 when he was fresh out of school and held a world ranking of 1025.
As the highest ranked player in the field, the reigning PGA Champion is the favorite of bookmakers, but his game has been a bit shaky as of late. In his six starts since a sizzling three-event stretch in March where he finished 1st, 2nd, and 4th, Thomas has posted just a single top 10. In particular, his two most recent finishes (T56, T25) have been his worst.
Still, in the big picture, Thomas is in the midst of another strong season which includes two more wins, so it would surprise no one if he’s holding the trophy come Sunday evening (or Sunday morning here in the states).
World Rank: 2nd
2018 WGCs: 2, 4
2018 Majors: 17, 25
Last Seven: 56, 25, 8, 11, 21, 17, 4
2. TOMMY FLEETWOOD
Another top-10 player in the field is the defending champion Tommy Fleetwood, who checks in right on the number at 10th. Like Thomas, Fleetwood enters off a shaky performance – a T59 at the BMW International.
Prior to that dud, though, the 27-year old Englishman had bookended a T2 at the U.S. Open and a T7 at the PLAYERS between two top 25s at the elite Rolex events (Italian Open and BMW PGA Championship).
In the two majors thus far, Fleetwood owns a top 20 (T17, Masters) and runner up (2nd, US Open), including a record-setting 63 on Sunday. Overall, on the season, Fleetwood has recorded a win (Abu Dhabi) and nine additional top 20s, including six top 10s.
Already a proven winner in France, Fleetwood should be a popular pick among the top-ranked stars.
World Rank: 10th
2018 WGCs: 14, 17
2018 Majors: 17, 2
Last Seven: 59, 2, 23, 20, 7, MC, 17
3. JON RAHM
At No. 5 in the World Rankings, Jon Rahm is the second highest ranked player in the field, and the Spaniard will be making his first start since a missed-cut at the U.S. Open.
Not including co-sanctioned majors and WGCs, the 23-year old superstar owns three European Tour victories in just six starts, including a Rolex Series event (Irish Open), a hometown title (Open de Espana) and the season-ending DP World Tour Championship. He’s also won twice on the PGA Tour.
Prior to his MC at Shinnecock Hills, Rahm had posted three top 5s in four starts, including the aforementioned win at his hometown event in Spain.
World Rank: 5th
2018 WGCs: 20, 52
2018 Majors: 4, MC
Last Seven: MC, 5, 63, 1, 4, 52, 20
4. ALEX NOREN
Alex Noren is ranked No. 16 and the Swede enters off four-straight top 25s, highlighted by a T3 at the BMW PGA Championship. Noren is in the midst of another impressive season, albeit winless, and would seem to be a lock for the European Tour Ryder Cup team. He owns four top-3 finishes, including a runner-up (playoff loss) to Jason Day at the Farmers.
The 36-year old former Oklahoma State star has posted two top 10s in his two most recent starts in France (T10, T8).
World Rank: 16th
2018 WGCs: 14, 3
2018 Majors: MC, 25
Last Seven: 25, 23, 3, 17, MC, MC, 3
5. RAFA CABRERA-BELLO
Rafa Cabrera-Bello is our fifth power pick this week, and enters off a solid T36 at the U.S. Open, and before that two-straight top 10s in the season’s opening Rolex events (Italian Open-4th, BMW PGA-T8), which followed a top 20 finish (T17) at TPC Sawgrass.
Overall, Cabrera-Bello has had another solid season, with a best finish a T2 at the season-opening UBS Hong Kong along with a T3 at the WGC-Mexico. He’s maintained a ranking consistently in the top 20-30 in the world for nearly three years now. The 34-year old Spaniard will be defending his Scottish Open title (a Rolex Series event) in two weeks and has a game that seems to be trending up.
World Rank: 25th
2018 WGCs: 3, 36
2018 Majors: 38, 36
Last Seven: 36, 4, 8, 17, MC, 38, MC