KLM Open Preview, Picks & Analysis
ALL eyes will be on home favourite Joost Luiten as he attempts to win the KLM Open for a third time. He claimed his home title in 2013 and 2016 but had to withdraw from last year’s event with a wrist injury that ruined his season.
The Dutchman loves this tournament. He finished second in 2007 but has been dogged by injury. In 2009 he was once again hampered by a wrist injury that kept him out more than a year and he played the start of 2010 on a medical exemption but bounced back in some style, finishing the season 28th on the Order of Merit.
In November 2011, Luiten won his first tournament on the European Tour, the Iskandar Johor Open. He won his second title in 2013 at the Lyoness Open. His best season came in 2014 when he won the Wales Open, finished third at the Volvo Golf Champions, sixth at the Abu Dhabi Championship, fourth at the Spanish Open, third at the Lyoness Open and third at the Volvo World Matchplay, climbing to 28th in the world rankings.
In the first half of 2016 Luiten collected eight top-10 finishes in 15 events, with second places in consecutive weeks at the Spanish Open and Shenzhen International before winning the KLM Open for a second time, matching the course record with an 8-under par 63 on the final round.
He hasn’t had a vintage season but there have been four top-10 finishes and was 32nd in the Race to Dubai after the European Open. He will no doubt be inspired by performing in front of his home fans again.
The tournament was won last year by Wu Ashun after the Chinese golfer birdied the last to overcome Chris Wood in a thrilling final day battle and win his third European Tour title. He entered the final round one shot behind Wood and after briefly edging ahead in the early stages, spent most of the day playing catch up at The Dutch before birdies on the 14th and 15th moved him level at 15 under.
A stunning second into the par five last set up the closing birdie in a 67 and with Wood making a par, Wu claimed his first win since the 2016 Lyoness Open. Wood's closing 69 left the Englishman one shot clear of Belgian Thomas Detry and Japan's Hideto Tanihara, with three-time major winner Padraig Harrington at 13 under. Wu's third win made him the most successful Chinese player in European Tour history.
There is a star-studded field in Holland, including Patrick Reed, Sergio Garcia, Thomas Pieters, Matt Wallace, Thomas Detry and a resurgent Lee Westwood.
Westwood will be the first to admit that he has now reached the veteran stage but he showed at The Open at Royal Portrush that he remains quite capable of competing with the very best. He remains one of the best ball strikers in the game, and one of the very best with a driver in his hand. His problems have been on the greens but he seems to have found something this season. Finishing fourth at The Open not only earned him a great deal of money but also a bucketful of ranking points, and a decent finish to the season will get him back into the top 50 in the world rankings.
He won this tournament way back in 1999 and has also finished third on three occasions.
Hard though it may be to believe, but Garcia is playing here for the first time. The 39-year-old is a 15-time European Tour winner and will be hoping to join the illustrious list of past champions which include some of some of golf’s greatest players including the late Seve Ballesteros, Bernhard Langer, José María Olazábal, Colin Montgomerie and many others. He has had a pretty torrid time of it recently, making headlines for all the wrong reasons, but there are signs that he is finally starting to get his act together. If Garcia would only focus on his game and eliminate the childish tantrums there is little doubt that he can and will add to his tally of victories.
"I am really looking forward to playing in Amsterdam and taking part in one of the oldest tournaments in the world. Six of my Spanish compatriots have put their name to this title, and I hope to add mine as well,” said Garcia.
Former World Number One Martin Kaymer is also taking part as he continues to rediscover his best form. Kaymer, a two-time major winner, has been one of Europe's best golfers over the past decade with the 11-time European Tour winner also representing Europe at four Ryder Cups. But he has suffered horribly in recent times until starting to show flashes of his very best form in 2019. “I am very happy that Martin is returning to the KLM Open,” said tournament director Dan Slooter. “I know he always has a good time at our event, so it's almost like a home tournament for him. We are fortunate that one of the most successful golfers of this generation is coming to strengthen the already impressive field of participants.”
The tournament was won in 2001 by Simon Dyson, in 2012 by Peter Hanson, in 2013 and 2016 by Luiten, in 2014 by Paul Casey, in 2015 by Pieters, in 2017 by Romain Wattel, and last year by Wu.
Sergio Garcia. Another victory is long overdue
Joost Luiten. Just loves this tournament
Thomas Pieters. Back to his best
Sergio Garcia. Has been showing some encouraging signs of form lately
Joost Luiten. Will be inspired by home crowd
Thomas Pieters. Just a brilliant ball striker
Thomas Detry. Why hasn’t this guy won yet?
Lee Westwood. Still one of the best
Patrick Reed. Here to win
Matt Wallace. Class act
Martin Kaymer. Getting there, slowly but surely
Mike Lorenzo-Vera. Beautiful golf swing
Chris Wood. Looking to go one better this year
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