European Tour Heats Up in France

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European TourA record purse and a star-studded field have been assembled for the 90th edition of the Open de France, one of the oldest golf tournaments in the world.
 
With just weeks left until the 135th Open Championship at Royal Liverpool, the European Tour is seeing influx of golf's biggest names competing and this week is no exception, with leading money winner David Howell, Padraig Harrington, Jose Maria Olazabal, Ian Poulter and Michael Campbell all in the field.
 
Colin Montgomerie is not in attendance, however. He withdrew Wednesday, citing fatigue.
 
Howell, who has a sizable lead over Paul Casey on the tour's Order of Merit list, is in search of his third victory of the season after winning the season-opening HSBC Champions Tournament last fall and the BMW Championship in late May. Seeing his ranking climb into the top-10 in the world, Howell is coming off a solid 16th-place finish at the U.S. Open.
 
Olazabal is a past winner of this event, taking home the title in 2001 and is showing good form of late with a T-21 at the U.S. Open and a T-3 at the Masters. The Spaniard will be making just his second appearance on the European Tour schedule this year, after a 14th place showing at the BMW Championship.
 
Another hot topic this week will be if host country favorite Jean-Francois Remesy can continue his torrid play in this event. Remesy's victory in 2004 was the first time a Frenchman had claimed the title since Jean Garaialde back in 1969. He then followed that historic win with a stunning repeat victory last year over fellow countryman Jean Van de Velde. It was the first title defense since Nick Faldo accomplished the feat in 1989.
 
Le Golf National will be hosting this event for the 14th time in the last 16 years.
 
The field will be playing for a purse of $5,038,000 with a first-place prize worth $840,000.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Open de France
  • Golf Channel Airtimes