The KLM Open is one of the founding tournaments of the European Tour. It was part of the schedule in 1972 (when it was called the Dutch Open) and has remained so ever since. The history of this tournament predates the European Tour by some way though having been first held back in 1912 when it was won by Englishman George Pannell.
Pannell was the first of a whole host of international golfers to lift this prestigious trophy whilst Joost Luiten became just the sixth Dutchman to win his home open in 2016. This is something of a nomadic tournament that doesn’t settle at one course for too long although each of Hilversumche Golf Club, Kennemer Golf & Country Club and Royal Haagsche Golf & Country Club has hosted on at least 20 occasions.
|2019||The International||Sergio Garcia|
|2018||The Dutch||Ashun Wu|
|2017||The Dutch||Romain Wattel|
The 2020 tournament was cancelled.
2019: Sergio Garcia
Sergio Garcia is one of the most successful players in the history of European golf. The Spaniard has locked horns with the best of several generations over the years and was able to draw on his depths of experience to fashion a win at the 2019 KLM Open.
Scoring was relatively easy as the tournament moved to The International in Amsterdam and after playing so well over the first three days, Garcia suddenly went into reverse on the front nine of his final round. Less experienced players would have panicked after back to back bogeys on the sixth and seventh holes but not Garcia. He took a breath, regathered himself and started on the job of reapplying the pressure to his playing partner, Callum Shinkwin.
From the eighth hole onwards Garcia made three birdies and just one bogey. The quality of his golf proved too much for Shinkwin who started his back nine with a double bogey and quickly faded away. Matt Wallace and Nicolai Højgaard did their best to chase Garcia down but he was not for catching en route to a 16th European Tour title.
2018: Ashun Wu
Everybody involved with The Dutch believes that it is a venue worthy of hosting top-level golf. The Colin Montgomerie-designed course ends with a par five to try and squeeze every bit of potential drama out of tournaments taking place in the inland links and it was the closing hole that decided the 2018 KLM Open. Ashun Wu knew that he needed a birdie to put the pressure on Chris Wood and his aggression on the 18th hole paid dividends with two excellent strikes yielding a birdie which was very nearly an eagle.
Even with that birdie on the last, Wu could only watch the rest of the tournament unfold as the final group came home. Chris Wood was the leader at the start of the final day of play and held onto that lead until the closing stages. Unfortunately for the Englishman he was unable to keep pace with Wu’s strong finish and had to settle for a disappointing second place, one shot behind the winner.
This win was a reminder of how much pressure plays a role in top-level tournament golf. Wu was able to set the tempo in the knowledge that Wood would see exactly what was going on from the group behind. Afterwards, the first Asian winner of the KLM Open said, “The last few holes in particular were incredible, especially the shot on the final hole.” That shot will be remembered for a long time by the fans who were gathered around the 18th.
2017: Romain Wattel
Winning for the first time on the European Tour is never easy, just ask Romain Wattel. The 26 year old Frenchman had to hang tough in the face of a number of challengers looking to usurp him at the top of the leaderboard. His own nerves also proved a hurdle to overcome given the size of the prize on offer. He felt those nerves particularly keenly as he came into the tournament facing a fight just to keep his playing rights on the European Tour but he eventually did enough to leave with his tour card assured for two years and a win that can never be taken away from him.
To say that Wattel’s form didn’t exactly scream potential winner is an understatement. He made the weekend just three times in his previous nine starts and summed it up by saying, “I was playing poorly to be honest.” As can sometimes be the case in golf, Wattel just found something in his game in the build-up to the tournament and was able to ride a wave of positivity to the title. He was especially happy with the improvement in his putting as that has long been one of his main strengths. “I think I’m a good putter but the last two years were tough for me,” he said after the tournament before summing his tournament up by saying, “I am happy with the way I played all week.”