Holland is our next stop on the DP World Tour as we head towards a slightly more consistent run of events in the lead up to the Open Championship in a couple of months time. With KLM having dropped their sponsorship of this event last year, we’re looking at a low-key affair now simply entitled the Dutch Open with a $1.75m total prize fund, and the field is a fair representation of that relatively low status.
Bernd Wiesberger is the marginal favourite this week as the Austrian looks to build on his 30th place finish at Southern Hills, which rates as the best effort on display from those players returning from Oklahoma. Fellow US PGA Championship cut-makers Thomas Pieters and Ryan Fox follow Wiesberger in the betting, along with the likes of Jordan Smith, Adrian Meronk, Rasmus Hojgaard and British Masters winner Thorbjorn Olesen.
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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 went to pastures new last year as Bernardus Golf played host to this event for the first time, and we return for another look at the Kyle Phillips design again this year.
The track 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.
Played in September last year, the course is due to play the same 7,425 yards for its par of 72 as it did in the autumn. A typical 10 par-4s, 4 par-3s and 4 par-5s, the long holes are all in the reachable bracket for those who can get the ball far enough down the fairway, and 2 short par-4s at the 3rd and 10th holes also present good scoring opportunities.
Predictor Model. Our published Predictor Model is available here. As always you can build your own model using the variables available.
Winners & Prices. 2021: Kristoffer Broberg, 275/1; 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.
After a mixed few days in the lead up to this year’s renewal with sunshine and showers, the weather is expected to settle down with 4 largely dry and sunny days. Temperatures will hover around the mid-60s Fahrenheit and winds will be moderate at 10-15mph at times.
Tournament Trends & Key Factors. Analysing the final stats of the last year’s contenders here gives us a little more insight into the skill-sets required:
1st, Kristoffer Broberg (-23). 304 yards (33rd), 69.6% fairways (41st), 76.4% greens in regulation (37th), 82.4% scrambling (1st), 1.55 putts per GIR (6th).
2nd, Matthias Schmid (-20). 324 yards (3rd), 83.9% fairways (2nd), 84.7% greens in regulation (6th), 63.6% scrambling (15th), 1.61 putts per GIR (23rd).
3rd, Alejandro Canizares (-18). 284 yards (68th), 66.1% fairways (54th), 73.6% greens in regulation (48th), 47.4% scrambling (52nd), 1.37 putts per GIR (1st).
4th, Thomas Detry (-15). 314 yards (14th), 75% fairways (19th), 76.4% greens in regulation (40th), 70.6% scrambling (5th), 1.52 putts per GIR (3rd).
4th, Darius van Driel (-15). 290 yards (60th), 80.4% fairways (5th), 88.9% greens in regulation (1st), 50% scrambling (43rd), 1.67 putts per GIR (49th).
A real mix of driving distances from last year’s stats, suggesting that any length of player can contend around these parts. Absolute numbers of fairways and greens hit were high overall, which puts the emphasis on capitalising on the opportunities that arise either through excellent proximity and/or strong putting.
Strokes Gained: From a Strokes Gained perspective, it was a really mixed bag last year with no single factor proving consistent, suggesting again that any style of player can contend here if they excel in one or two areas on the week:
4th, Darius van Driel: T: 23rd; A: 4th; T2G: 1st; ATG: 13th; P: 60th
Key: T: SG Off the Tee; A; SG Approach; T2G: SG Tee to Green; ATG: SG Around the Green; P: SG Putting.
Incoming Form: 275/1 about Kristoffer Broberg last year gives you a clue about his incoming form last September and just two top-20 finishes in the season to that point hardly hinted at impending success. 6 weeks off since finishing 63rd on his previous start, the Swede eventually coasted to victory after a few Sunday scares having done the hard work over the first 3 days.
Before that, Sergio Garcia’s immediate form was nothing to write home about before he converted this title the in 2019, 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.
Joost Luiten had twice finished runner-up earlier that season, and 33rd at the US PGA as well as 27th at the Olympics was clearly strong form relative to the field in 2016; 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:
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; neither was Kristoffer Broberg’s trio of missed cuts exactly screaming for him to be backed last year.
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:
2021, Kristoffer Broberg: MC/MC/MC
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
Any exposed course like this without serious protection is likely to be there for the taking, and with rain expected in the early part of the week followed by sunny conditions and moderate winds at worst, birdies and eagles should be the order of the day for all once again this year.
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.
Last year’s event was played later in the year and featured players with a variety of styles; a May renewal this time shouldn’t change the fundamental scoreable nature of the course and once again I’d expect to see different types of player in the mix here this week with a winning score of 20-under or deeper.
My selections are as follows:
Oliver Bekker 1.5pts EW 40/1 (5EW, 1/4)
The second career Major start for Oliver Bekker, and his first for 5 years, didn’t quite go to plan last week at Southern Hills with a Friday exit, but that doesn’t preclude him from bouncing straight back this week at this considerably lower level.
Despite the distraction of his impending Trans-Atlantic flight last week, the 37 year-old still managed a 4th place at the Soudal Open on his last DP World Tour start to reward each-way backers – disappointment aside, gaining Major experience is all part of the learning curve, even for a 7-time winner on his home Sunshine Tour.
With no course experience from last year to refer to and only a 35th place finish in Holland on the Challenge Tour last year in terms of local form, we’re going to need to rely on the assumption that the Pretoria man suits this week’s test. 20th for SG Off the Tee and 23rd SG Tee to Green ties in nicely with how Matti Schmid navigated his way into contention here last year, and 5th for Birdie Average at approaching 5 red numbers per round is the kind of numbers we’re looking for here in my view.
Bekker also currently ties the lowest score on the DP World Tour for 2022 with the 62 that he produced at the Ras al Khaimah Classic in February, and to prove it was no fluke he’s subsequently shot 63 twice and has the scoring power to succeed on this scoreable Bernardus Golf setup.
Of course, the biggest issue for Oliver may well be lifting himself after last week’s missed cut, however his form following a weekend off since the start of 2021 reads 11/28/11/20/9/10 so all isn’t lost. In general he’s bounced back well on his next start of late and a continuation of the DP World Tour form that’s seen him notch three top-4 finishes in his last 6 starts at this level isn’t out of the question. RESULT: MC
Hennie du Plessis 1.5pts EW 45/1 (6EW, 1/5) with Unibet
One player who’s showing signs of increasing comfort on the DP World Tour is Hennie du Plessis and in this relatively weak field he could well have another stab at his breakthrough title this week.
Twice a winner on the Sunshine Tour in 2017 and 2018, the South African is quite rightly plying his trade at a higher level when he can nowadays and him taking advantage of his sponsor’s invite this week wouldn’t be a shock given what we’ve seen of late.
7th at the Joburg Open and 3rd at the SA Open in his homeland to end 2021 was noteworthy and he came closest yet to winning his maiden title at this upper level when leading for 3 days at the MyGolfLife Open, before a final round 72 meant he had to settle for a tie for 6th. That’s all part of the learning curve though and since that point he’s racked up finishes of 3rd and 6th in the Spanish double-header at the end of last month, closing with rounds of 67 and 64 as he’s increasing got to grips with being in contention.
15th at the Soudal Open on his last start has kept a lid on his price to a degree, however he was Strokes Gained positive in every category and his typically strong Off the Tee game was once again evident, ranking 12th in that SG category. 5th for putting average on the predominantly Bentgrass greens of Rinkven International is also a positive and something you might expect from a South African who will have spend his formative years playing on the surface.
Rounds of 62, 64 (twice) and 65 (twice) since the middle of March demonstrates the scoring power that du Plessis possesses, and with little course experience from the rest of the field this week, the Gauteng man shouldn’t be at much of a disadvantage in that respect on course debut. RESULT: T56
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Of the young talent emerging on the DP World Tour, Matti Schmid is one of the most exciting. Winner of the European Amateur title twice in 2019 and 2020, the German went on to become leading amateur at the 2021 Open Championship before turning professional.
19th at the ISPS Handa World Invitational on his second start as a pro was impressive enough, however it was here at Bernardus Golf last autumn that he showed his potential by finishing 2nd to runaway leader Kristoffer Broberg on an invite. That effort earned the 24 year-old a start the following week at the Dunhill Links where he finished 9th; combined with an 11th place finish in Mallorca that was enough for him to earn his playing rights for 2022 in what’s been a whirlwind few months.
While we’re still forming a view on his true strengths and weaknesses, it’s fair to say that Matti has produced his best golf on lower-scoring tests. Of course here at Bernardus in September was a case in point, however 3rd in March at the Steyn City Championship came at -19, despite a closing round of 71 which was pretty pedestrian compared to the rounds of 69/65/64 that had preceded it.
That third round 64 matched his Saturday effort of a fortnight before in Kenya which saw him in 4th place heading into Sunday, and he produced the same score again in the second round of the Soudal Open on his last start which gave him a share of the lead heading into the weekend.
SG Off the Tee is Schmid’s biggest strength, which could prove to be a formidable weapon this week after early rain in the week has softened the course, and 5th for GIR on his last start is encouraging as he looks to go one better than last year’s effort here. RESULT: MC
Yannik Paul 1pt EW 80/1 (5EW, 1/4)
4 years Matti Schmid’s senior, Yannik Paul is the second promising German on my team this week at a backable mid-range price.
Based out of Arizona and having spent the first year or so of his professional career on the Canadian circuit where he recorded a 5th place finish and 4 further top-20s, Paul graduated from the European Challenge Tour at the first attempt last year, finishing 9th on the Road to Mallorca rankings courtesy of 7 top-10 finishes including 2nd at the season-ending Challenge Tour Grand Final.
Yannik has taken the step up to DP World Tour level in his stride, becoming an increasingly prominent name on leaderboards and recording top-10 finishes at the Joburg Open, ISPS Handa Championship in Spain and most recently last time out at the Soudal Open where he finished runner-up to Sam Horsfield and impressed greatly.
3rd and 7th for GIR on his last 2 starts, which includes the British Masters before his Belgian effort, 6th and 3rd for Scrambling over the same 2 weeks shows he’s got short game as well as long game ability. 5th for both SG Off the Tee and SG Tee to Green at the Belfry was bettered by rankings of 4th for both SG Approach and SG Tee to Green at Rinkven last time out and seeing him continue his fine form this week would be no surprise.
Only a year’s worth of history for the DP World Tour players here at Bernardus Golf puts Paul at less of a disadvantage than other courses on the circuit, and he can draw on his only other start in Holland when he finished 8th at the B-NL Challenge Trophy last August. RESULT: MC
Sebastian Soderberg 1pt EW 150/1 (5EW, 1/4)
At a longer price, Sebastian Soderberg appeals on a course where birdies will need to be made courtesy of a strong tee-to-green game.
Consistency isn’t the Swede’s greatest strength – incoming 5-event form of MC/MC/MC/2/MC is testament to that – and as such he often resides further down the stats pages than many of his peers, yet when it all comes together the 31 year-old is very capable and very good.
5 of his 6 career wins as a professional have come at lower levels, however his 2019 win at Crans-sur-Sierre on the then European Tour will always stick in the memory as he overcame 4 other competitors in the eventual play-off, including former OWGR number 1 Rory Mcilroy. When it clicks, watch out.
2nd at the British Masters a little over a fortnight ago was another example of his game coming together – Strokes Gained positive in every category, he improved by more than 15 Strokes Gained from a Tee-to-Green perspective over the previous week’s missed cut at the Catalunya Championship.
In truth, Soderberg probably prefers things a touch easier than it was at The Belfry, and that may well help as he approaches a far less stringent test here in Holland. 24 birdies on his way to a top-20 finish in Thailand on the Asian Tour in March is more like what he’ll need here this week and when red numbers are the currency there’s plenty of evidence that the Gothenburg man can deliver.
21 birdies at the Ras al Khaimah Championship (25th place overall) this year followed 2021 efforts at the Dubai Championship (23 birdies, 31st place overall), Mallorca Golf Open (20 birdies, 2nd), Dunhill Links (20 birdies, 39th) and Kenya Savannah Classic (26 birdies, 26th). Add to that birdie hauls of 26 & 25 the autumn before at the Golf in Dubai Championship & Scottish Championship and we have a player who can score heavily enough to get in the mix here. RESULT: T5
Andy Sullivan 1pt EW 150/1 (5EW, 1/4)
Finally, if we wind back to the summer of 2020 when golf was just getting back on its feet following lockdown, we find Sam Horsfield winning his maiden European Tour title at Forest of Arden before Justin Thomas became the next name in the record books, capturing the WGC Fed Ex St Jude a few hours later in the US.
By way of parallels, Sam Horsfield won the Soudal Open before Justin Thomas triumphed at Southern Hills on Sunday, so if lightning is going to strike twice (or thrice) then surely Andy Sullivan, who won the next title in that 2020 sequence at Hanbury Manor, is the winner here this week.
A little far-fetched I agree, however golf betting is littered with these odd quirks and stranger things have (probably!) happened. Nevertheless, there’s a little more substance to my thought process than simply reading the 2020 schedule and putting two plus two together, you’ll be glad to hear.
Firstly, that 7-stroke win at the English Championship at Hanbury Manor came at a massive 27-under par, rubber-stamping his credentials at birdie-fests like this having previously won the Portugal Masters at 23-under. When he’s playing well and scoring well, the 35 year-old can simply blow fields of this quality away, a fact that his 9-stroke victory at Vilamoura underlines.
Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, the Nuneaton man may just have turned his back on a wretched run of form that had seen him miss 6 cuts from 9 to start 2022 and record a best finish of 47th before his 9th place finish at the Soudal Open on his last start. 4th for SG Putting was noteworthy for a player who thrives on momentum ahead of another likely low-scoring affair, and he seems much, much happier with his progress of late on Social Media. RESULT: MC
Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 15:00BST 23.5.22 but naturally subject to fluctuation.