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Padraig Harrington: Alstom Open De France - Preview

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Padraig Harrington plays his second shot on the 1st fairway in the Pro-Am during the Alstom Open de France
Padraig Harrington plays his second shot on the 1st fairway in the Pro-Am during the Alstom Open de France.

It's great to be back in Paris for the French Open, which I have missed for the last few years due to the way the schedule was set. When I saw the date it had this year and the change of date for the Irish Open, I was delighted that I would be able to come back to this great tournament. Paris National is one of the best courses of the year, has got better and better every year and I'm sure it will be a fantastic venue for the Ryder Cup in 2018.

I was off last week as I am playing three tournaments in a row now. As usual I did quite a bit of practice and spent a good bit of time working on my swing. For the last couple of months I haven't been doing too much technical work but there were a couple of things that I wanted to straighten out and so I got into it last week. I kept up my practice on my short game as well. I am happy with the work I did and I could see the results of it by the end of the week.

I arrived here on Monday evening and on Tuesday I spent an hour with Pete Cowen showing him what I had been doing last week and he was very happy with how it was going. I played six holes as the course was closed in the afternoon for a Pro-am. In the afternoon I went on a trip to Bordeaux to the Chateau a Yquem vineyard to see how they make wine, to have dinner and taste some wines. It was an amazing trip, I am not a wine drinker but I really enjoyed seeing it all and tasting the different types. It was one of those trips that I would never have thought of doing myself but having gone and done it I am delighted I did.

On Wednesday I played the pro-am. I have played Paris National many times so I know it well but it was still good to get out and see how it was playing. The course is in fantastic condition, but there was quite a bit of rain here last weekend and it has softened up a little. I think it is playing really well at the moment and as the week goes on it should firm up nicely if the rain holds off, which is when it plays its toughest. This year they have cut the rough back and set it up in such a way that if you miss the fairway you can go for the green but you will get flyers, which I am big fan of rather than the heavy rough. This is such a good golf course that it doesn't need heavy rough to make it tougher.

When you go through the holes there isn't a bad hole out there and it has one of the toughest finishes in golf. Three of the last four holes have water on them. On the 15th and 18th holes it is crucial that you hit the fairway and over the years there has been some serious carnage on the finishing holes. This is one tournament that is not over until the very last hole and with water in play for the tee shot and the second anything can happen.

I am really looking forward to playing this week - I think this is a great course and an excellent venue and I like the way the course is set up. I am happy with the work I have done during my week off and I want to see how it stands up to competitive play. I am feeling good about my game and hope that I am about to run into a bit of form. This would be a nice week to start it off.

Talk soon,
Padraig.

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