2023 KLM Open Preview, Picks & Analysis
Ryder Cup hopeful Victor Perez will defend his KLM Open title at Bernardus Golf Club this week, knowing that victory would go a long way towards securing his place in Luke Donald’s team
The Frenchman, who won his second DP World Tour title in the Netherlands last year, will be joined by a number of other golfers who have an eye on Marco Simone Golf Club in September, including Adrian Meronk, who is hoping to become the first man from Poland to don European colours, and Rasmus Højgaard.
Home hopes lie with tournament ambassador Joost Luiten, who is a two-time winner. He has claimed nine titles on the DP World Tour but his most recent victory came more than five years ago at the Oman Open.
He has struggled with fitness and form but there have been some hugely encouraging signs this season. He finished in a tie for 23rd at the South African Open, tied 13th at the Alfred Dunhill Championship, tied third at the Thailand Classic, third at the Hero Indian Open, tied ninth at the SDC Championship and tied third at the Korea Championship. He is in 21st place in the Race to Dubai and the 37-year-old will surely faces his chances this week.
This year's KLM Open will be played at Bernardus Golf in Cromvoirt for the third consecutive time.
Perez, who defeated Kiwi Ryan Fox in a play-off last year, already has one win to his name this year after claiming his maiden Rolex Series title at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship as he targets a Ryder Cup debut at Marco Simone later this year.
(Image Credit: Kevin Diss Photography)
Meronk is also vying for a place on Team Europe and will return to the KLM Open having come close to his maiden victory in 2022.
The Hero Cup winner finished third at Bernardus Golf and did not have to wait long for his first DP World Tour victory when he triumphed at the Horizon Irish Open just over a month later. He then added a second title, at the ISPS Handa Australian Open in December, and gave his Ryder Cup hopes a huge boost by winning the Italian Open at Marco Simone.
Spain’s Pablo Larrazabal, who briefly flirted with LIV Golf, is another who is in a rich vein of form, with three victories in 14 months, the most recent of which came at the Korea Championship. He is a seven-time winner on the DP World Tour.
I also have a feeling that this could be a good week for Jordan Smith, winner of the Portugal Masters last year. After a quiet start to the season he finished in a tie for sixth place at the ISPS Handa Championship and tied 16th at the Italian Open.
Apart from Luiten, Wil Besseling, Daan Huizing and Darius van Driel will all be flying the flag for the Netherlands. Van Driel finished fourth in his home tournament in 2021.
"With Perez, Meronk and the Højgaard twins, the KLM Open has managed to attract four of the most sought-after European players. These four men all stand a great chance of representing Europe in the Ryder Cup later this year and all four play regularly on the DP World Tour. Additionally, the presence of the four Dutchmen is great for the tournament and for Dutch golf," said tournament director Daan Slooter.
As an added bonus, for the second consecutive year, the KLM Open will count as a qualifying tournament for the US Open. Two players will secure a spot at Los Angeles Country Club through a four-tournament mini Order of Merit on the DP World Tour. The KLM Open is the third of those four tournaments, with the final counting event being next week’s Porsche European Open.
It was won in 2015 by Thomas Pieters, in 2016 by Joost Luiten, in 2017 by Romain Wattel, in 2018 by Ashun Wu, in 2019 by Sergio Garcia, in 2021 by Kristoffer Broberg and last year by Victor Perez. There was no tournament in 2020 because of the pandemic.
Adrian Meronk is rapidly climbing the world rankings and has already won twice this season - and this is a course that will suit his game. Joost Luiten has rediscovered his best form and will surely be inspired by playing on home soil in a tournament he has won twice.
Bernardus is a par 72 that measures 7,445 yards. It is a heathland course that was designed by Kyle Phillips, who was also responsible for creating Kingsbarns. It has many bunkers and several water hazards, with the fairways wending their way between the dunes.
Adrian Meronk. Brilliant ball striker
Joost Luiten. In excellent form
Victor Perez. Looking for a successful defence
Five to Follow:
Adrian Meronk. Wonderful temperament
Joost Luiten. One of the best putters in the game
Victor Perez. Possesses a glorious golf swing
Jordan Smith. Hugely impressive
Rasmus Hojgaard. Hoping to show his best form
Five Outsiders to Watch:
Alex Fitzpatrick. Quietly going about his business
Eddie Pepperell. Finally showing a bit of form again
Wil Besseling. Decent Dutch golfer
Darius van Driel. Has done well here in the past
Victor Dubuisson. Still searching for the magic
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