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Golf | European Tour

Raphael Jacquelin © Gallo Images

French Open is 'our major' - Jacquelin



Top French golfer Raphael Jacquelin understands the weight of expectations from home supporters felt by Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell in Ireland last week heading to this week's French Open.

Jacquelin is among 21 French-born players contesting the tournament which opens on Thursday on the Le National course near Versailles, which will also host the 2018 Ryder Cup.

McIlroy and McDowell, along with fellow Ireland-born Major champions Padraig Harrington and Darren Clarke, missed the cut in last week's Irish Open at Carton House.

Their early exit was a bitter blow to organisers and a huge disappointment for Irish golf fans.

Jacquelin, the Spanish Open champion, heads into his 17th straight French Open since making his debut in 1997.

And after a career-best third-place finish last year, the 39-year old is hoping crowd support can help carry him to a first French Open success.

"I can understand how Rory, Graeme, Padraig and Darren Clarke went through last week as it's the same for the French-born players this week as the French supporters expect to see a Frenchman win the French Open," said Jacquelin.

"For all the Irish players, the Irish Open last week was like their major and it's the same this week for the French players as this is our major just as next week's Scottish Open will be like a Major for the Scottish-born players.

"There is extra pressure and more demands mostly from outside the ropes what with more media interviews than normal and many other things, but it's all part of the game.

"So there is a lot more pressure for every player playing in his own national open, but then you have to deal with it as it comes.

"The key is how you deal with it and being organised.

"I've been contesting the French Open since 1997 so I will try not to lose too much time, and too much energy off the golf course.

"But it's still going to be a nice week as I will have my family here as we are staying in Versailles, and there also will be a lot of school children out watching the golf.

"So if you go out there on Thursday with the attitude of enjoying the week then you have a chance of playing well and being in contention.

"I had a lot of pleasure last year with the French crowds behind me in finishing third and just two shots behind Marcel Siem."

Joining Jacquelin this week will be two compatriots and past French Open champions, Jean-Francois Remesy, winner of the event in 2004 and 2005, and Thomas Levet, who captured the 2011 French Open but then broke his leg in a victory leap into a nearby water hazard.

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