After two rounds of the French Open, a host of contenders are in the mix, including an in-form Wicklow man.
The third event in the Rolex Series on the European Tour is in progress less than two weeks before the Open Championship. Le Golf National in Paris, which will host the 2018 Ryder Cup in September, is playing very tough indeed.
+4 was the cut mark, and favourites like Tommy Fleetwood, Rafael Cabrera-Bello and Matt Wallace have failed to make the weekend.
One player who has comfortably made the cut is Paul Dunne.
Dunne, looking to add to his maiden European Tour title at the British Masters last year, has regained the form that saw him post four top eight finishes a few months ago. His +3 first round of 74 was negated by a much better Friday round of 67, which included five birdies and just a solitary bogey.
The Greystones native is now -1 for the tournament and in the top eight, albeit five shots off the lead held by Marcus Kinhult.
Two-time French Open winner Graeme McDowell is struggling on the +3 mark. The 2010 U.S. Open winner has struggled for form in recent years. A fifth place berth at the Italian Open recently gave him a much needed spark though. While he posted a 68 yesterday to be tied for second, today’s +6 round was much more of a struggle.
A double bogey 7 on the par 5 third hole derailed his momentum, and although he made two birdies on 9 and 14, they sandwiched another double bogey on 13. He was still under par for the tournament, but that all changed on the difficult 18th.
In the first cut of rough after his drive, McDowell had 196 yards to the green, which is protected at the front and back by water. One exclamation of “Oh my God” later, and his ball needed only one bounce to find the water after clearing the green with a flyer. His fourth shot from the drop zone found the water again in horrendous fashion, and he eventually took 8 for a quadruple bogey, dropping from 10th to 41st in one fell swoop.
Shane Lowry will also be disappointed with his day. Offaly’s Lowry shot a fine 70 yesterday, but today’s + round of 75, featuring four bogeys and a double, leaves him +3 overall, tied for 41st also.
The aforementioned Kinhult is on -6, and is being chased by big-hitters such as Jon Rahm (-3) and Justin Thomas (-2).