The Dutch Open (formerly the KLM Open) is one of the founding tournaments of the European Tour. It was part of the schedule in 1972 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.
Betting Tips for 26th to 29th May 2022
There can be few sports which are so affected by the weather than golf. We’ll likely get a good reminder of that in this week’s Dutch Open.
Bernardus Golf, a venue much more used to hosting tourists than top-level professionals, was a pushover last year on its debut as the Dutch Open host. Matti Schmid made it to -20 but still found himself three shots away from even making a playoff with 2021 Dutch Open champion Kristoffer Broberg. The Swede took advantage of perfect weather conditions to earn his surprise win but he will have no such luck this time around. Wind and rain will be near constants throughout the 2022 Dutch Open so don’t expect scoring to be quite so good.
Whatever the weather, it quickly became clear last year that the key to unlocking Bernardus Golf is excellent approach play. The 7,425 yard, par 72 layout is wide enough for players to give it the beans off the tee without worrying about where their drives may go. Whether hitting out of the fairway or the rough, the quality of second shots into the greens will separate the contenders from the rest of the field.
Ryan Fox is known for the tremendous amount of power he possesses. The Kiwi will relish the chance to hit the driver so much at Bernardus Golf but he is much more than just a one-trick pony. Fox has some of the very best approach play statistics of anybody in the field for the 2022 Dutch Open. He showed just high that combination of driving power and solid approach play can take him with a good showing at the PGA Championship and can maintain his momentum by winning in the Netherlands at odds of 25/1.
Bernd Wiesberger is the only player with better strokes gained approach stats than Fox. That is enough to see him installed as the 18/1 favourite with the bookies but the affable Austrian is going to need a much better week with his putter than of late if he is to justify his lofty market position. Instead of backing Wiesberger, take the much more attractive price of 50/1 available about Victor Perez. It’s not been a great season so far for Perez but his approach play and putting are the only two areas not to have let him down and he can lean into those strengths to get the sort of positive result that he very much needs.
Haotong Li is another player in need of a good week. The Chinese star has not been shining as expected for a long time with various problems seeing his ranking plummet to outside of the top 500. Fortunately for Li, there does appear to be some light at the end of the tunnel. He finished 12th at the Sony Open in Hawaii in January before finishing third at the Ras al Khaimah Championship and sixth at the ISPS Handa Championship in Spain. Crucially, Li is one of the best wind players around while his approach to the green and putting stats look good so he makes each way appeal at odds of 66/1.
|2021||Bernardus Golf||Kristoffer Broberg|
|2019||The International||Sergio Garcia|
|2018||The Dutch||Ashun Wu|
|2017||The Dutch||Romain Wattel|
2021: Kristoffer Broberg
The hope of every professional golfer is that their maiden professional win will set them on the path towards more success. Getting over the line and then going backwards is, therefore, very challenging. Kristoffer Broberg summed this pain up very well, calling the period after his first European win “six years of hell”. Thankfully for the affable Swede, that hell came to a resounding end at Bernardus Golf so it was no surprise to see tears of relief and joy flow after Broberg closed out an impressive Dutch Open win.
Nobody was quite sure what to expect of Bernardus Golf as it hosted a top-level professional event for the first time. While the inland links-style course immediately rose to the challenge it was Niall Kearney who set the early pace with an opening round of 65. Broberg scored a respectable score of 68 on Thursday but then took the tournament away from his opponents with scores of 64 and 61 on Friday and Saturday respectively.
A combination of several injuries and loss of form means that Broberg isn’t exactly flush with experience of sleeping on a lead. The pressure of seeing out the win clearly got to him on Sunday as he lost ground to those around him. However, the work he did to that point meant that a level par round was enough to win without too much fuss, starting those emotional scenes on the final green.
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.”