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.
2023: Pablo Larrazabal
The 2023 edition of this event in Cromvoirt, produced a thrilling final day of action. Crammed with ups and downs over the front nine holes, in the end, none could repel the bang-in-form Spaniard Pablo Larrazábal. Fresh from completing four rounds at the USPGA Championship, the just-turned-40-year-old produced an irresistible late surge to come home two shots clear of the field to claim his second title in the space of his last three starts.
Larrazábal started steadily with rounds of 66 and 73, before making his move with a Saturday 67 to move to 10 under and thus take a one-shot lead into the final round. Compatriot Adrian Otaegui and Denmark’s Rasmus Højgaard were the men hot on his heels, followed by Deon Germishuys of South Africa.
Sunday didn’t begin well for Larrazábal, with a double bogey at the second hole seeing him relinquish the lead almost immediately. Undeterred, the recent winner of the Korea Championship Presented by Genesis bounced back in impressive style, sinking huge putts at 6 and 7 to move back into a share of the lead.
By the end of the 12th hole, we had a five-way tie for the lead, setting up a nail-biting final stretch. Others threatened, but it was Larrazábal who seized the initiative. A spectacular approach at 15 set up the birdie which would give him the outright lead, and after picking up another shot at 17 he had one hand on the trophy. No wobbles at 18 as he sealed the deal in some style with a perfectly judged 21-foot putt for birdie.
This was a ninth DP World Tour win for the experienced Larrazábal, who picked up the €316,649.48 winner's share of the prize money and moved up to eighth in the Race to Dubai Standings. Adrian Otegui finished alone in second, with Rasmus Højgaard and Deon Germishuys sharing third. Elsewhere at the event, Mike Lorenzo-Vera drew one of the biggest cheers of the week when firing in an ace at the par-3 8th – his first hole-in-one in 32 years of playing the game. Never give up!
2022: Victor Perez
The Dutch Open has visited many of the very best courses in the Netherlands. After the second edition of the historic tournament to take place at Bernardus Golf Course there is a feeling that the venue could be the best of the lot. The heathland course provided a wonderful backdrop for a thrilling tournament which was only ended after Victor Perez somehow won on the fourth hole of his playoff with Ryan Fox.
Fox has played some excellent golf recently and it looked for all the world that he was going to be rewarded with a second win of the season. However, golf is an unpredictable sport and Perez was able to come up with some moments of magic to capitalise on a costly mistake from Fox. The New Zealander made a seven on the par five 18th hole while Perez holed out from 35 feet on 17 to tie Fox’s clubhouse lead of 13 under par.
Perez himself missed a chance to win the tournament when his birdie putt on 18 just missed but he put that behind him in the playoff. The Frenchman holed out from 15 feet to tie Fox’s birdie on the first trip back up 18, they traded pars on the second playoff hole before Perez rode his luck again by making a putt from 30 feet to stay in the fight. Another long-range putt on the fourth playoff hole was enough to end Fox’s resistance and cap a very welcome return to form for Perez.
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.”