Dutch Open Preview, Picks & Analysis
THOMAS DETRY might reasonably have expected to be preparing this week for a trip to Whistling Straits with Europe’s Ryder Cup team. Instead he finds himself heading to Bernardus Golf Club for the Dutch Open as he continues his search for his maiden European Tour victory.
And it is going to be a formidable challenge for the 28-year-old Belgian, who is one of the most impressive ball strikers in the game. He came within a whisker of finally breaking his duck at the Scottish Open earlier this year when he lost in a playoff to Min Woo Lee, the young Australian who looks like he may have a big future ahead of him. Many believed that Detry was going to be a shoo-in for Padraig Harrington’s team, and I include myself among those. His failure to make the breakthrough is one of golf’s real conundrums. He appears to have the lot. If there is a weakness it is on the greens but he hits so many quality approach shots that he keeps giving himself opportunities.
The same could be said of his countryman, Thomas Pieters, who made such an impressive Ryder Cup debut in a losing cause back in 2016. He looked set to become a fixture in the team but hasn’t qualified since. Pieters is a four-time winner on the European Tour, but the most recent of those successes came more than two years ago.
Home favourite Joost Luiten has had a disappointing season but he is a two-time winner of his national open and remains their best hope of winning. The champion of 2013 and 2016 regularly practices at Bernardus and is looking forward to his home tournament. "I hope it will feel like coming home to a new course this year," said Luiten. "I want to perform again, give some extras for the home crowd that can be present at tournaments again."
Bernardus Golf Club is hosting the Dutch Open for the first time, as the tournament returns after a Covid-enforced break in 2020.
Two years ago Sergio Garcia held on to defeat Nicolai Hojgaard by a single stroke. The victory was the Spaniard’s 16th on the European Tour, but there were some nervous moments in the final few holes for Garcia as a bogey on the 17th cut his lead down to one. However, he recovered to par the 72nd hole to take the title.
With the win, the all-time Ryder Cup points record holder moved into the top three on the all-time European Tour money list, behind Lee Westwood and Rory McIlroy.
"I played well all week under pressure," said Garcia."It wasn't easy, there were a couple of tough moments today but I hung on tough, that's the most important thing. There was obviously a little bit of nerves here and there. Today wasn't easy," added the 39-year-old who became the seventh Spanish winner of the tournament, joining a list that includes Seve Ballesteros and Jose Maria Olazabal.
"It means a lot to be part of that amazing group, to be there with Seve… It's special. Every one is special but this one is special because my wife and my daughter are here, some of my family are here."
Hojgaard was one of six men to card a 68 in the final round. Matt Wallace, who finished third, was left to rue a 75 on the first day.
James Morrison ended the week in fourth, while overnight joint-leader Callum Shinkwin made it a trio of Englishman in the top five.
However, it could have been much better for the 26-year-old, who at the halfway stage of his final round was level with Garcia before two bogeys and a double saw him drop back, finishing five shots behind the Spaniard.
Rikard Karlberg finished on his own in sixth, ahead of Will Besseling, the leading Dutchman. Besseling finished alongside Chile’s Hugo Leon and Sweden’s Joakim Lagergren at -11, with home favourite, Joost Luiten, a further shot back.
The tournament was won in 2015 by Thomas Pieters, in 2016 by Joost Luiten, in 2017 by Romain wattel, in 2018 by Ashun Wu and in 2019 by Sergio Garcia.
Bernardus Golf is hosting the Dutch Open for the first time. It was designed by Kyle Phillips, who is also responsible for the masterpiece that is Kingsbarns, as well as The Grove. It is a heathland course that features plenty of water hazards, dunes and gorse. It measures 6,808 yards
Thomas Detry reels of top-10 finishes for fun and came so close to winning his first European Tour title at the Scottish Open in July. He will surely contend again this week.
Thomas Detry. Must break through soon
Players to Follow
Thomas Detry. Brilliant ball striker
Joost Luiten. Loves playing on home soil
Thomas Pieters. Another win is long overdue
Wil Besseling. Decent Dutch golfer
Andrew Johnston. Everybody loves Beef
Wilco Nienaber. Biggest hitter on Tour but needs to start managing his game
David Drysdale. There would be no more popular winner
Marcel Siem, Veteran enjoying a second lease of life
Image Credit: Kevin Diss Photography
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