Our man takes his usual weekly look back at last week's golf action with a detailed look at The Dutch - the brand new venue for the KLM Open...
“I really enjoyed the KLM Open and I thought the new venue, The Dutch, was fantastic. In what were relatively benign conditions for most of the week, the scoring was lower than expected but I suspect this will be a very stern test if the wind blows in 2017 and/or 2018.”
It was a week that favoured the backers, with the well-fancied home favourite, Joost Luiten, taking the KLM Open for a second time and the equally well-supported Dustin Johnson winning the BMW Championship.
Luiten had begun the week as the third favourite but after pre-event favourite Thomas Pieters withdrew after suffering a bad reaction to a bee sting, the Dutchman was behind only Alex Noren in the betting. Dustin Johnson was third favourite before the off in the States, with only Rory McIlroy and Jason Day trading shorter.
Luiten began the final round trailing Scot Hend by three strokes but an eight-under-par 63 yesterday, despite finding water on the par five 13th, which the Dutchman understandably described as one of his best ever rounds, took him to a three stroke win. It wasn't all plain sailing though and both Hend and Bernd Wiesberger were matched in-running at odds-on. The Australian hit a low of 1.9620/21 and Wiesberger dipped to 1.9520/21.
The KLM Open was a thrilling tournament and a joy to watch but the same can't be said of the BMW Championship. After a birdie at the first hole yesterday, Johnson bogeyed two and three to briefly suggest it might be a close run thing but birdies at four or five soon put him firmly back in command and the result was never in doubt after that.
As detailed in the In-Play Blog, I backed Luiten after round two and again after round three so that event worked out well. A victory for third round leader, Hend, who I'd backed on Friday, would have been a marginally better result and I'd more than covered myself by backing Wiesberger at 18.017/1 on Sunday morning so the final round was completely stress-free.
Over in the States, backing Rory McIlroy before the off and laying Dustin before round four were my most damaging decisions and I very nearly wiped out all my gains in the Netherlands.
With the benefit of hindsight, I was blinded by how well Rory had played in Boston and I'd put too much faith in him being back to his best. It now looks as though that win could have been a flash in the pan and it's a shame I was blinded by that effort because the venue was equally ideal for DJ and I could have easily backed him.
I'm happy enough with my decision to lay him yesterday at such a short price, given how strong the stats against him were, but I definitely dismissed him far too readily before the off.
What Have We Leaned This Week?
I really enjoyed the KLM Open and I thought the new venue was fantastic. In what were relatively benign conditions for most of the week, the scoring was lower than expected but I suspect this will be a very stern test if the wind blows in 2017 and/or 2018.
The cream rose to the top, suggesting it's a tough course, and I'm slightly aggrieved I didn't back the winner before the off. I'd felt that form at the Twenty Ten Course may be relevant and Luiten had won the final Wales Open to be staged there. He also revealed after his win that he's a member at The Dutch and that he practices there. His very words were that "I know this place good" and it certainly showed.
Ben Evans, who rallied late on to finish tied for fourth, was the only player in the top-seven not to have been an established European Tour winner and I'll be surprised if an outsider takes the spoils here.
Being described as an inland links, I thought players with strong links pedigrees may come to the fore but that wasn't really the case. I'll stick with my theory that Open de France form will stand up here though. Wiesberger won at Paris National last year and Alejandro Canizares, who finished tied for fourth, was beaten in a playoff there in 2010.
I can't see any reason why as the two venues don't look similar, but form at Wentworth might just be an angle in here also: Byeong Hun An, who finished third yesterday, won the BMW PGA at Wentworth last year; Simon Khan, who fell away to finish tenth is a two-time winner at Wentworth; the third round leader, Hend, also led at Wentworth after three rounds in May; Luiten, Wiesberger and Canizares and David Horsey, who both finished tied for fourth yesterday, all have fine form in the book at Surrey's finest.
I can see why form at the two venues should crossover but on what limited evidence we have it looks like it does.
There's no event on the PGA Tour this week but I'll be back later today or tomorrow with a preview of the Italy Open on the European Tour.
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