Paul Williams

Paul Williams' Dutch Open Tips 2021

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Well done to Billy Horschel backers last week at Wentworth, and also to Steve Bamford who picked the American at 28/1 on last week’s podcast. Having been entirely overlooked for a Captain’s pick for the Ryder Cup despite winning the WGC Match Play earlier in the year, Horschel showed his class with the wedge on the 18th to take the title in impressive fashion.

Holland is our next stop on the European Tour as we head towards the Ryder Cup and the final events of the season with qualification for Dubai looming. With KLM dropping their sponsorship this year, we’re looking at a low-key affair now simply entitled the Dutch Open with a €1m total prize fund, and the field is a fair representation of that low status.

A new venue in the south of Holland, Bernardus Golf, plays host to this event for the first time this week with a field that’s headed by Thomas Pieters and Branden Grace at around 12/1 following the omission of Louis Oosthuizen, having previously committed to the event. Sam Horsfield’s back to his former price level at around 16/1 having briefly ventured into the backable range last week at Wentworth in what looks a pretty open affair.

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Course Overview. Having flitted between Kennemer and Hilversumche since the millennium, and then The Dutch for three years and The International for a single renewal, the Dutch Open heads to pastures new this year as Bernardus Golf plays host to this event for the first time.

The Kyle Phillips design opened in 2018 and is a typically flat, exposed Dutch design with generous fairways and top class A1/A4 Bentgrass greens. With thousands of heather plants slowly maturing and long fescue grass flanking the fairways for the seriously flagrant, the course has a hint of a linksy, heathland track about it.

In typical European Tour style, there’s no information on the course whatsoever at the time of writing. For a hole-by-hole overview, click here.

dutch open tips

Tournament Stats. We’ve published some key player statistics for this week’s KLM Open, however as noted this year’s event is being played at a new venue: Current Form | Tournament Form | First Round Leader Stats | Combined Stats.

Predictor Model. Our published Predictor Model is available here. As always you can build your own model using the variables available.

Winners & Prices. 2019: Sergio Garcia, 16/1; 2018: Ashun Wu, 125/1; 2017: Romain Wattel, 175/1; 2016: Joost Luiten, 18/1; 2015: Thomas Pieters, 55/1; 2014: Paul Casey, 25/1; 2013: Joost Luiten, 20/1; 2012: Peter Hanson, 22/1; 2011: Simon Dyson, 25/1; 2010: Martin Kaymer, 12/1.

Weather Forecast. The latest weather forecast for the area is here. Largely dry and sunny conditions are expected for the 4 days of tournament play, with temperatures approaching 70 Fahrenheit. Winds are forecast to peak on the opening day at around 10mph before dropping away a little over the weekend.

Incoming Form: Sergio Garcia’s immediate form was nothing to write home about before he converted this title the last time it was played, however he’d sat inside the top 10 heading into Sunday at Crans on his previous start.

Ashun Wu’s patchy season had taken a positive step the week before he obliged for us in this event in 2018 at 125/1, having finished 6th the week before at Crans-sur-Sierre; Wattel was having a poor season before capturing his maiden European Tour title in 2017 and 175/1 was indicative of the year he was having which, until that point, had seen no finish better than 24th on Tour.

Luiten had twice finished runner-up earlier that season and 33rd at the US PGA and 27th at the Olympics was clearly strong form relative to the field here; Pieters had won a fortnight before, gaining his maiden European Tour victory in the Czech Republic; Casey had been playing predominantly in the USA and back-to-back top-22 finishes in higher company.

Luiten in 2013 had won the Lyoness Open earlier in the summer and Peter Hanson had finished 3rd at Augusta that season. Simon Dyson had won the Irish Open 5 events before capturing his 3rd KLM Open title in 2011 and Martin Kaymer’s 4 stroke victory in 2010 was his first start since winning the US PGA Championship at Whistling Straits:

  • 2019, Sergio Garcia: 5/MC/4/MC/MC/52/MC/7/67/40/MC/23
  • 2018, Ashun Wu: MC/64/60/47/MC/DQ/MC/11/MC/MC/49/6
  • 2017, Romain Wattel: 24/31/66/MC/51/MC/MC/26/MC/33/MC/65
  • 2016, Joost Luiten: 2/2/44/MC/27/6/16/9/MC/MC/33/27
  • 2015, Thomas Pieters: MC/18/33/MC/MC/24/39/MC/60/33/35/1
  • 2014, Paul Casey: 16/MC/13/24/56/33/22/14/47/MC/18/22
  • 2013, Joost Luiten: 15/21/8/MC/11/1/10/2/49/MC/4/44
  • 2012, Peter Hanson: 14/52/15/17/3/MC/61/23/63/7/59
  • 2011, Simon Dyson: 5/3/20/MC/MC/25/9/1/33/51/15/16
  • 2010, Martin Kaymer: MC/34/MC/28/12/8/21/6/MC/7/22/1

Event Form. There are no real clues from Sergio Garcia’s win in 2019 as it was both his first attempt at the Dutch Open and his competitive debut in Holland full stop.

2019 winner Ashun Wu had fairly non-descript event form before winning, however he’d sat in 6th position going into the weekend the year before to give some indication that he was comfortable on the course and in the area.

2017 winner Romain Wattel had missed the cut at The Dutch on his previous attempt, however a 5th place finish at Kennemer in 2014 masks the fact that he led by 3 shots going into the final round before stumbling to a closing 74.

2016 winner Joost Luiten won this event for the 2nd time having previously triumphed in 2013, whereas 2011 winner Simon Dyson has notched 3 KLM Open successes over his career.

  • 2019, Sergio Garcia: Debut
  • 2018, Ashun Wu: 46/31
  • 2017, Romain Wattel: MC/MC/MC/5/MC/MC
  • 2016, Joost Luiten: MC/MC/2/MC/MC/57/6/MC/1/5/23
  • 2015, Thomas Pieters: 30/22
  • 2014, Paul Casey: 46/41
  • 2013, Joost Luiten: MC/MC/2/MC/MC/57/6/MC
  • 2012, Peter Hanson: 28/MC
  • 2011, Simon Dyson: 60/1/27/12/1/MC
  • 2010, Martin Kaymer: 55

With no tangible course form to go on this week, we’re relying on specification mostly. Aesthetically the course looks like there are challenges with water and fescue ready to trap the errant, however the regular rough is light and the fairways are wide which should allow for some low scoring.

Any exposed course without serious protection is likely to be there for the taking and with rain expected in the early part of the week followed by calm, sunny conditions, birdies and eagles should be the order of the day for all.

Kyle Phillips has either designed or had a hand in a number of courses that are familiar to us on the European Tour, with Kingsbarns which features as part of the Dunhill Links rotation each year perhaps the most recognised. The Grove which hosted the 2016 British Masters is another of his tracks, as is Dundonald Links which was the venue for the Scottish Open a year later.

PGA Sweden’s Lakes Course (2015 Nordea Masters), Verdura (2017, 2018 Rocco Forte/Sicilian Open) and Hilversumche (2010-12 KLM Open) are also worth a look to varying degrees, with the latter a renovation of the Harry Colt original on a Dutch track with a few parallels to this week’s task.

My feeling with this week is that a variety of styles could feature given the course style and placid forecast. Which ever way, I suspect a winning score in the 20-under region will be required.

My selections are as follows:

Joost Luiten 2pts EW 30/1 (7EW, 1/5) with Paddy Power

With Louis Oosthuizen swerving this week’s Dutch Open having previously been announced as the headline act, the betting market this week is a little less attractive than it may otherwise have been. Of course that assumes that Louis wouldn’t have won, if you’d have been looking to oppose the man who would have been clear favourite, and that would have been far from given.

It’s all academic of course, however I struggle to get excited about 12/1 quotes for Thomas Pieters and Branden Grace, with the former seemingly in far better nick than the latter on last week’s evidence but still apt to flatter to deceive.

Sam Horsfield was on last week’s team at 70/1 and despite a monumental improvement on his Friday effort compared to those of late, he could still only muster a tie for 35th and is now 16/1 for this week.

Finishing on the same score as Horsfield last week was Joost Luiten and although his price has also been hammered, the Dutchman holds more appeal for me on home soil and he heads this week’s team.

The 35 year-old is attached to Bernardus Golf and has a significant advantage over the field with his experience here on this track, with most of the attendees here this week seeing the course for the first time. Of course he’ll have to produce in competition rather than practice if he’s going to prevail here this week, however it’s clear that Joost is immensely comfortable in his homeland regardless.

2nd at Kennemer in 2007 and 6th at Hilversumche in 2011 paved the way for KLM Open victories in 2013 (Kennemer) and 2015 (The Dutch), as well as another pair of top-10 finishes. Adding to that tally this week on a course that gives him a leg-up versus the field looks entirely possible in my view.

12th at the Czech Masters and 18th at the Italian Open before last week’s effort, crucially for Joost he’s been Strokes Gained positive with the putter to compliment his typically strong long game over the last 3 outings. The only area of his game that’s been negative of late has been his performance around the greens, however with local knowledge he may just be able to correct that and produce the complete package this week to complete his hat-trick of Dutch Open titles. RESULT: MC

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David Law 1pt EW 66/1 (5EW, 1/4) with bet365

It remains to be seen whether shorter hitters will fare better or worse than the longer hitters here this week given the vagaries of this layout, however if the mere mortals of the modern golf game from off the tee are to be allowed to contend this week, then David Law warrants serious consideration.

Averaging ‘just’ 294 yards off the tee puts the Scot in the lower half of the Driving Distance statistic for the season, however that’s not stopped him from producing some encouraging finishes this year including 7th at the Porsche European Open and 4th at the Hero Open, and after a brief lull in results he recorded a big personal best at Wentworth last week to finish in a tie for 14th place.

The 30 year-old has come on significantly over the past few years, firstly winning the 2016 Sotogrande Open by 6 strokes on the MENA Tour before stepping up to the Challenge Tour where he was triumphant on home soil at the SSE Scottish Hydro Challenge. The Aberdeen man’s big breakthrough though came on the linksy track at 13th Beach in Australia when he captured the Vic Open in 2019 and this week’s test doesn’t feel dissimilar to me.

12th for GIR and 11th for Putting Average last week in Surrey is positive ahead of this week’s test in a much weaker field and I suspect that he can outperform his odds here. RESULT: T38

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Joakim Lagergren 1pt EW 80/1 (6EW, 1/5) with Unibet

Despite the relative lack of value at the top end of the betting, there were still a few other mid-priced players who I considered, with Brandon Stone and Lucas Bjerregaard both on the shortlist for me.

With the unknown factors this week though I’m keeping things relatively simple and Joakim Lagergren is the only other player making my team in that kind of price range.

A form line of 17/MC/63/27 has kept the Swede below the bookies’ radar, however there was enough improvement last week in all long-game categories at Wentworth to encourage an investment this week on a track that suits far better. 15th for SG Off the Tee from 49th the week before, and 3.75 Strokes Gained Tee to Green versus 8.44 lost in Italy, is enough to get me interested as we know he can be explosive with the putter when on his game.

20/9/MC/7 from his last 4 KLM (Dutch) Opens shows a level of comfort and improvement in this part of the world, if not on this track specifically, and just a glance through his historical finishes suggests that he should like the exposed layout here this week. 3 top-4 finishes at the Dunhill Links is good form for this I feel given the tracks used and the low scoring; likewise 2nd at Doha in 2017 is also noteworthy.

Perhaps the most tangible form though is his win on the Sicilian Coast in 2018 at the Rocco Forte Open which used a fusion of Kyle Phillips’ two tracks there.

A closing 73 last week took the gloss off of what was otherwise an encouraging performance and I’d expect him to build on that here this week. RESULT: MC

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Lee Slattery 1pt EW 150/1 (7EW, 1/5) with Betfred

Finally I’ll take a chance on bigger price in the shape of Lee Slattery.

It’s been 6 years since the Southport man secured his second European Tour title at the M2M Russian Open, having picked up his first almost 10 years ago in Madrid, however a 6-week burst of competitive action recently peaked my interest as he showed good signs of progression.

From the Cazoo Open to the Omega Masters, the 43 year-old recorded finishes of 57/MC/38/40/45/13 with the final effort his best result on Tour for over 2 years. Improving SG Approach ranks of 19/9/7 over the final 3 outings suggests that he was feeling increasingly confident with his approach play which could well be important this week.

Field rankings of 2nd and 6th for Putts per GIR on the final 2 efforts also bodes well on a week where taking chances on the greens could be the key ingredient to success.

4th and 2nd at the Kennemer-hosted KLM Opens here in Holland in 2008 and 2015 respectively is positive, and the exposed track here should suit his game having played his formative golf on the Merseyside coast.

7th at PGA Sweden in 2015, 12th at The Grove in 2016, 11th in Sicily in 2017 and 9th at Dundonald in 2017 is all positive Kyle Phillips form and 5th at the 2012 Alfred Dunhill Links can also be filed under the tenuous but certainly not negative section for this week. RESULT: T38

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Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 18:30BST 13.9.21 but naturally subject to fluctuation.