Joining Curtis in the field are a pair of top-15 ranked players in the world, Padraig Harrington and Retief Goosen, along with previous winners of this title - Colin Montgomerie, Ian Woosnam and Eduardo Romero.
Last year, Alex Cejka secured his first win since 1995 when he posted a two-shot win over Carlos Rodiles. Cejka, who will not be on hand to defend his title, was tied for the lead with Maarten Lafeber with one round remaining, but carded a three-under 68 for his fourth career European Tour title. Mark Pilkington, who started the day 11 shots behind, carded a course record 62 to finish tied for 13th.Jean-Francois Lucquin was the low Frenchmen last year, tying for third with Angel Cabrera.
When Sergio Garcia won this event in 2001, he joined Seve Ballesteros, Jose Maria Olazabal and Miguel Angel Jimenez as the only Spaniards to win this tournament.
There have been only three wire-to-wire winners of this event: David Graham 1982, Ballesteros 1988 and Vijay Singh 1994. In 1986, after several playoff holes, Bernhard Langer and Ballesteros were declared co-winners of the event due to darkness. Ballesteros is a four-time winner of this event. Gary Player holds the distinction for having the biggest winning margin in tournament history (six strokes) when he defeated Lanny Wadkins in 1975. Graham is the only player to win this event two straight years (1981-82).
Colin Montgomerie has posted six top-10 finishes at this tourney over the last 13 years, including a win in 1995, but struggled last year and tied for 33rd.
The course is a combination of the Blue and Red Courses at Saint- Nom-la-Breteche, with 11 holes from the Red and seven from the Blue. Saint-Nom-la-Breteche has hosted this event since its inception in 1970. The field was expanded from eight to 12 in 1979, to 27 in 1982, to 65 in 1987 and to 105 in 1995. Last year, 120 players began the event with 78 making the cut at two-over par.
In the past, Americans have fared well at this event. Past winners from the United States are: Arnold Palmer, Lee Trevino, Johnny Miller, Billy Casper and Mark O'Meara. In 2002, Tom Gillis and Ty Tryon were the only Americans in the field, with Gillis tying for 58th and Tryon missing the cut.
The European Tour moves to Germany next week, where defending champion Stephen Leaney heads a world-class field for the Linde German Masters.