Dave Tindall

Across the Pond

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KLM Open Preview

Monday, September 10, 2018


From the high-up mountains of Switzerland, we head to the lowlands of the Netherlands for the KLM Open.

 

Netherlands translates as ‘low country’, with most of the land at or below sea level and this week’s course, The Dutch, is very flat in nature, contrasting to the wild undulations we saw in the Swiss Alps.

 

We’ve had just two editions at the Colin Montgomerie designed-course, home hero Joost Luiten winning the first and Frenchman Romain Wattel lifting the trophy last year.

 

Luiten has actually won two of the last five KLM Opens but won’t be able to improve that record this year as he’s had to withdraw from the tournament after undergoing wrist surgery.

 

There are eight former champs taking part though, including Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer, while Matt Wallace and Eddie Pepperell are other notables, especially as English players have a great record in the event with six wins in the last 14 years.

 

 

The Course

 

A new course opened in May 2011, The Dutch is located in Spijk, about 45 minutes south of Amsterdam. The Monty design is an inland venue but has a strong links feel, with greens repelling shots that come in at the wrong angle. Three of the par 5s on the 6,983-yard par 71 are in the last six holes, making the back nine 313 yards longer than the front. Flat and exposed to wind, the fairways are of average width but the Bentgrass greens quite large and undulating. Water is on play on 1, 2, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 15, 16, 17 and 18 (that’s 12 holes). Fun fact: Had their bid been successful, The Dutch would have hosted this year’s Ryder Cup.

 

2017 Top 2 and Stats

 

-15 Romain Wattel (DD 22nd, DA 48th, GIR 10th, Scrambling 26th, PA 2nd)

-14 Austin Connelly (DD 45th, DA 1st, GIR 2nd, Scrambling 8th, PA 20th)

 

2016 Top 3 and Stats

 

-19 Joost Luiten (DD 50th, DA 10th, GIR 2nd, Scrambling 1st, PA 10th)

-16 Bernd Wiesberger (DD 27th, DA 21st, GIR 17th, Scrambling 10th, PA 5th)

-13 Byeong-Hun An (DD 16th, DA 53rd, GIR 6th, Scrambling 6th, PA 35th)

 

Notes: Six players tied for third in 2017 and four of those were also in the top ten for GIR. It’s what you might expect, Monty designing a course that rewards good iron play. With those greens slightly elevated with run-offs, it’s also no surprise to see good scrambling rewarded. The stats don’t particularly support it but Luiten says: “It is a very narrow course. You have to avoid making mistakes from the tee.” With all the water, you certainly can’t be too wild off the tee or on approach.

 

 

The Weather

 

There’s rain in the build-up but it should clear for Thursday’s start and be dry throughout. There’s a bit of sunshine but we’re now into September so temperatures will be in the low to mid 60s. It can get very windy here but it should be relatively calm for the first three days before picking up (gusting up to 17mph) on Sunday.

 

 

The Leading Contenders

 

Lee Westwood

His win may have come way back in 1999 at Hilversumsche but Westwood took immediately to The Dutch when finishing tied third on his first look there in 2017, shooting 70-65-67-69. He’ll return in fine form too. The Englishman was runner-up at the Made In Denmark and added T12 in the Swiss Alps last week, ranking 2nd and 9th respectively for greens in regulation in those two events.

 

Matt Wallace

Some fatigue kicked in for Wallace last week as he closed with 74 to finish T51 in Switzerland. His attitude since failing to get a Ryder Cup pick has been excellent it has to be said but his dramatic win (third of the season) at the Made In Denmark two weeks ago probably took plenty out of him. He’ll keep the engine running here though and T9 on debut last year shows he enjoys Monty’s layout.

 

Eddie Pepperell

File him under tournament specialist. Pepperell cracked the top four at Kennemer in both 2014 and 2015 and improved on that with tied third place at The Dutch last year, firing a Sunday 65 after rounds of 69-68-69. A memorable 2018 has brought him a first win (Qatar Masters on an exposed track), second place in the Scottish Open and T6 at Carnoustie while he added T9 in the Czech Masters last month.

 

Chris Wood

After nearly a month off, Wood returned to action in the European Masters last week and had a solid tournament, closing with 66 for T23. He’s a name always associated with links golf and his recent T14 at the Irish Open and T28 at Carnoustie provided further evidence. This isn’t a pure links by any means but Wood enjoyed it last year when getting better each day (70-69-68-65) to take T9 so could be an interesting proposition.

 

Ryan Fox

Fox had his first look at The Dutch last year but couldn’t really get anything going, carding three 71s and a 70 for T60. He’s certainly one to consider any time the word ‘links’ is used and his second place at the Irish Open and T6 at the Scottish has been followed by form of 39-27-30. Ninth for GIR in Switzerland last week when T30.

 

Mike Lorenzo-Vera

The search for an elusive first European Tour win continues for the Frenchman who had another great chance in Switzerland on Sunday. He led late in round four but found water at the last and finished two short of the play-off number. MLV was ranked 1st in Putting Average at Crans while he has some notable form in the Netherlands with T8 here in 2016 and T12 in T15 on his only other two visits.

 

Andy Sullivan

Putting behind him a run of three straight MCs, Sullivan opened with 65 in Crans last week to suggest a return to the form which brought him five top tens in seven starts from April to July. He couldn’t build on it though, finishing T30. He didn’t make the weekend at The Dutch last year but was third in 2014. He won a trip to space that year after making a hole-in-one but hasn’t cashed it in yet due to fear of heights!


Soren Kjeldsen

Although he hasn’t played this course, Kjeldsen has T12 and T8 (both at Kennemer) in two of his last three KLM Open appearances. The Dane also has some noteworthy current form after a pair of T12s at his home Made in Denmark and last week’s European Masters. He was third for greens in regulation in the former.

 

Kiradech Aphibarnrat

Aphibarnrat was the 54-hole leader here last year after rounds of 68-65-66 but faded to T9 at the finish after a poor final day. That was his first start in the Netherlands and followed on from T16 in Switzerland the previous week. His form this time isn’t as good and breaking par just once in four laps meant he had to settle for T45 at Crans on Sunday. Hasn’t had a top 30 since T15 at the U.S. Open.

 

Erik Van Rooyen

Any nod towards a links test will be good for Van Rooyen who showed his love for such conditions when T4 in the Irish Open and T17 at Carnoustie. He continued his good form with a top five at the Made In Denmark two weeks ago and ranks sixth for GIR this season. This is the South African’s Dutch debut.


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Dave Tindall is former golf editor at Sky Sports.com in the UK and has been writing betting previews for the European Tour since 1997. He can be reached via e-mail on tindall_david@hotmail.com and on Twitter @davetindallgolf.
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