What the golfing Gods gave us with Matt Wallace’s win in Denmark a fortnight ago, they cruelly snatched back last week with 33/1 headline selection Lucas Bjerregaard losing out in a play-off to Matt Fitzpatrick in the Swiss Alps. Hard lines for the Dane who’d looked by far the most likely winner after posting a flawless final round of 63, however it wasn’t to be sadly. Darren Fichardt (125/1) fell a shot shy of the each-way places after another excellent final round to compound a frustrating week, however a chance for immediate redemption is never far away in this game.
Holland is our next stop on the European Tour as we head towards a series of decent events with qualification for Dubai looming and two further Rolex Series events before we reach that point, plus of course the small matter of the Ryder Cup in a little over a fortnight’s time. One of Thomas Bjorn’s Ryder Cup vice-captains Lee Westwood heads the betting here at 16/1 following a decent couple of weeks where he firstly lost out in a play-off to Matt Wallace in Denmark before finishing 12th last week in Switzerland.
Course Overview. Having flitted between Kennemer and Hilversumche since the millennium, the KLM Open heads back to the ‘The Dutch’ for a third consecutive year having hosted its first recognisable event since its opening here in 2016. Carved from the rural countryside of Spijk to the east of Rotterdam, this modern inland links-style course takes its inspiration from the classic links tracks found the other side of the North Sea and features the dunes, undulating fairways, deep bunkering and thick gorse that’s more typically found in Scotland. At 6,983 yards for its par of 71, The Dutch isn’t a long course by modern standards, however there’s plenty of protection in the shape of water which is in play on more than half of the holes, challenging rough around the greens and longer grass for those who are errant off the tee or with approach shots. The greens are undulating bentgrass which can reach 12’6″ on the stimpmeter in ideal conditions.
The front 9 is the shorter of the two halves with a short par-5 (490 yards) and three sub-400 yard par 4s; the back 9 is over 300 yards longer and features 3 par-3s and 3 par-5s, two of which are over 600 yards in length. Overall there’s a real mix of holes in terms of length, however in general they’re fairly straight with few dog-legs to trouble the players and this tends to favour the more adept ball-strikers. As ever with shorter, links or links-style tracks, the strength of the breeze and conditions underfoot tends to determine the scoring levels.
Predictor Model. Our published Predictor Model is available here. As always you can build your own model using the variables available.
Winners & Prices. 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 will be light for the first two days before increasing slightly over the weekend, reaching 10-12mph in the afternoons.
Tournament Trends & Key Factors.
Analysing the final stats of the top-2 finishers here over the past 2 years gives us a little more insight into the type of player suited to this test:
- 2017 – 1st, Romain Wattel (-15). 281 yards (22nd), 50% fairways (48th), 80.6% greens in regulation (10th), 50% scrambling (26th), 1.64 putts per GIR (2nd)
- 2017 – 2nd, Austin Connelly (-14). 272 yards (45th), 84.6% fairways (1st), 84.7% greens in regulation (2nd), 63.6% scrambling (8th), 1.74 putts per GIR (20th)
- 2017 – 1st, Joost Luiten (-19). 286 yards (50th), 65.4% fairways (10th), 83.3% greens in regulation (2nd), 83.3% scrambling (1st), 1.68 putts per GIR (10th)
- 2017 – 2nd, Bernd Wiesberger (-16). 296 yards (27th), 61.5% fairways (21st), 77.8% greens in regulation (17th), 62.5% scrambling (10th), 1.66 putts per GIR (5th)
The common theme from both years played at The Dutch has been that strong iron-play has ultimately prevailed. The top two home last year both hit over 80% of GIR and of the remaining players finishing inside the top-10 overall, we also had players ranking 1st, 3rd, 3rd, 8th, 8th and 10th on the same count. It was a similar story the year before with Luiten, Wiesberger and Ben An filling the top 3 spots and each are excellent ball-strikers when on their games. The key with both eventual winners though was that they had a strong week on the greens to compliment their approach play, ranking 10th (Luiten) and 2nd (Wattel) for putts per GIR.
The par-3s are scoreable here: in total the 71 players who made the cut played the short holes in 175 under par during the week 12 months ago which improved on already impressive figures the year before of -137 for 72 players. Eventual winner Romain Wattel played the short holes in 8-under over the course of the week which was the best on show and, once again, emphasises the importance of strong iron-play here. In terms of the par-5s, the 6th and 15th holes offer scoring opportunities to the whole field, whereas the 13th and 18th are 3-shotters for most which nullifies the impact of the longer holes on the outcome of the event to a larger degree than normal.
Incoming Form: Wattel was having a poor season before capturing his maiden European Tour title here last year 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:
- 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. Last year’s winner Romain Wattel had missed the cut at The Dutch on his previous attempt in 2016, 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.
- 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
For me, someone who’s striking their irons well at present is the most attractive angle into this week and GIR may well prove to be the critical statistic once again this year. Conditions are likely to be far more amenable than 12 months ago which should lead to a lower winning total, perhaps similar to Luiten’s 19-under from 2016 when it was calm, warm and sunny for the most part. A liking for links-style layouts isn’t a bad attribute to have here either in my view, although it’s certainly not the be-all and end-all.
My selections are as follows: