The European Tour is in the Netherlands this week for the Dutch Open and Matt Cooper has three selections with the Betfair Sportsbook paying seven places...
"He’s got a fine record at Spey Valley, a modern heathland track in Scotland. He was second there in 2018 and has twice been tied fifth."
Main Bet: Joachim B. Hansen 1pt each-way @ 40/1
The Dutch Open has a wonderful history, stretching back to 1912, and it has always been a constant on the European Tour.
For many years it was regularly hosted by the links venues at Noorwwijkse and Kennemer, plus the tree-lined fairways of the Harry Colt design at Hilversumsche.
Classic designs all three and they witnessed victories by the great names of European golf - Seve Ballesteros, Bernhard Langer, Colin Montgomerie, Lee Westwood and Miguel Angel Jimenez among them.
In recent times - although not last year after the tournament's cancellation due to Covid - the event has ventured to the modern designs at The Dutch, The International and now, this week and for the first time, Bernardus Golf.
The track might be new, the inspiration is rather older. Because course architect Kyle Phillips was motivated by the heathland which surrounds the plot: by its sandy turf, heather, gorse and pine trees.
The result does appear heathland-like (although the water features are a little different) so we can look to other heathland and heathland-like courses as a form guide.
The first name that jumped out to me as having been a little overlooked (with a somewhat diminished field, plenty have had prices slashed if they've shown any form whatsoever) is the Dane Joachim B. Hansen.
Last week he finished T20th at Wentworth with rounds of 69-68-72-68 which I thought was a solid back-up to his tied seventh there 12 months ago.
The West Course is not quite so naturally heathland as the other Surrey tracks around it, the likes of Sunningdale and Walton Heath. The turf is a little slower, but it has aspects of those traditional design principles and is similar to the eye.
What of Hansen's other form that might be of interest?
I particularly like that he's got a fine record at Spey Valley, a modern heathland track in Scotland. He was second there in 2018 and has twice been tied fifth.
I'd also add top 10s at fast-running tracks like Club de Campo in Madrid, Lake Karrinyup in Perth and Golf Pleneuf Val Andre in France.
His win on the Firethorn Course at Randpark had slight similarities, but I also like that he was tied sixth the last time the European Tour played a modern course with heathland pretensions - at Vallda in the Scandinavian Mixed.
Next Best: Joakim Lagergren 1pt each-way @ 50/1
Second pick is another Joachim, but different spelling.
The reasoning is a little different too.
In Joakim Lagergren's case, I'm tempted by his affinity for Phillips designs.
He first hinted at that when thrashing a 66 to open the 2012 Sicilian Open at Verdura and he confirmed it when completing victory there six years later.
In 2016 he got off to a terrible start in the British Masters at The Grove (a 75 for T105th), but responded with 65-66-69 for T18th.
And the Phillips hat trick is completed by his course record 62 at Kingsbarns in the 2019 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship (an event he really rather likes as evidenced by three top four finishes: "I love the format, love the courses.").
In recent weeks his form has also started to move in the right direction. He spent all week in the top 20 at the Czech Masters on his way to T17th, carded a second round 69 at the Italian Open, and then he was T27th at Wentworth last week when shooting a Saturday 66.
He's frequently a lovely putter, but he found plenty of greens in regulation last week (74% for 17th in the field) and his Strokes Gained Off the Tee numbers in recent weeks have been his best since he landed back-to-back top fives this time last year.
Final bet: Marcus Hellingkilde 1pt each-way @ 100/1
The excellent Challenge Tour form of Santiago Tarrio Ben has been noted by the compilers who are right to be wary of a fellow with two wins on the second tier, a runner-up finish last time out, and a third at Fairmont St Andrews on a rare European Tour outing.
They have also responded to Alfredo Garcia-Heredia's win and fourth in his last two Challenge Tour starts.
But the Dane Marcus Hellingkilde has remained in three figures and interests me.
The 24-year-old first graduated from the third tier Nordic Golf League in late 2018, but found the step-up a touch tough at the first time of asking.
A solid 2020 was given a boost when he won again early this year at that level and he's used that form to great effect in his second Challenge Tour campaign. A second place in his first start was ideal and in August he really caught fire.
He won the Finnish Challenge and after a couple of cuts made on home turf he was part of a four-man play-off at The Dutch in the B-NL Challenge Trophy, losing out to Garcia-Heredia.
He took a break after that, but ought to be feeling very chipper that his return to action allows him to a) play at the higher level, and b) in the very same country where he came so close to another win.
This will be only his second start on the European Tour but he looked perfectly at ease when T25th in the Made in Himmerland in May, closing with a 64.
MATT'S 2021 P/L
2020 P/L: -32pts
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