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KLM Open: Fancied runners opposed in Amsterdam

Golfer Patrick Reed
Patrick Reed - the favourite to win the KLM Open
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We're off to another new venue for the KLM Open this week so, with little to go on, Steve Rawlings is happy to take on the favourites. Read our man's detailed preview ahead of Thursday's start here...

"Three of the last four winners have been matched at – at least [70.0] before the off and the last two winners have gone off at very big prices."

Tournament History

Founded in 1912 and originally known as the Dutch Open, the KLM Open has been an ever-present on the European Tour since its inception in 1972. It's one of only seven events to be staged every year since the start of the Tour in '72 and this will be the 100th edition of the tournament.

The KLM Open is a nomadic event and after three years at the Colin Montgomerie designed Dutch Club, the event moves to The International in Amsterdam for the very first time.

Venue

The International, Badhoevedorp, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Course Details

Par 73, 6,966 yards

For the second week in a row, the pros are faced with a course with five par fives and a par of 73 but, if the European Tour website can be believed, the Ian Woosnam-designed International is considerably shorter than last week's venue, Green Eagle, in Hamburg.

With no information on the venue on the European Tour website, other than the yardage, it's tough to gauge what sort of test the pros will face this week but I do keep reading that it has a links feel.

I got a feel for the course by looking at the hole-by-hole guide and layout on the course website here and Andy Swales has unearthed a bit more detail about the venue here.

Weather Forecast

TV Coverage

Live on Sky Sports all four days, starting at 10:30 on Thursday, but from Friday the coverage is behind the red button because of the Solheim Cup.

Last Five Winners

2018 - Ashun Wu -16
2017 - Romain Wattel -15
2016 - Joost Luiten -19
2015 - Thomas Pieters -19
2014 - Paul Casey -14

What Will it Take to Win the KLM Open?

We're always up against it with a new venue and to a large extent there's plenty of guesswork involved but with a fairly benign forecast, I suspect we're going to see some really low scoring.

With it's large bentgrass greens, finding the fairway, in order to attack the right portion of the green, should be key this week. I've read that the rough is fairly penal so if the event does turn in to a low scoring birdie-fest, finding the short grass off the tee is going to be important.

We can look at the Greens In Regulation stats here for clues and even the Birdie stats, given whoever wins is highly likely to make more birdies than anyone else but this really is a tough tournament to gauge before the off.

If I'm right, and the scoring is especially low, the winner is highly likely to be the man with the hottest putter but predicting who putts well from one week to the next is notoriously difficult.

Bernd Ritthammer, Sam Horsfield, Ashley Chesters and Jeff Winther filled the first four places in the Putting Average stats in Germany last week and Horsfield, who finished tied for 14th in Hamburg, made more birdies than anyone else. All four are in the line-up this week but whether they can pick up from where they left off is far from certain.

Is There an Angle In?

The KLM has been traditionally staged at links venue so if this track does play like an in-land links it would be no surprise so form during the summer, at the Irish Open, Scottish Open and of course, the Open Championship, could be a positive.

Is There an Identikit Winner?

Up until last year, when China's Ashun Wu won the title, a European had one every renewal since Australia's Stephen Leaney won the 2000 edition.

A few outsiders took the title around the turn of the century. Sven Stuver, Stephen Leaney (twice) and Tobias Dier all went off at a triple-figure price but after the 2005 edition, when a young Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano edged out fellow rank outsider, Gary Emerson, fairly well-fancied runners took the title almost every year but three of the last four winners have been matched at - at least [70.0] before the off and the last two winners have gone off at very big prices. The 2017 winner, Romain Wattel, was out of form and matched at [300.0] before the off and Wu was matched at a high of [180.0] before going off at around [150.0] last year.

In-Play Tactics

The course was used a couple of times for the Dutch Senior Open in 2013 and 2014, when windy weather kept the scoring low. I'm not convinced we can glean too much from either renewal but if you're planning to trade in-running the hole averages from the 2014 edition, won by the course designer himself, are here.

If the routing is the same as it was in 2014, the trickiest holes are around the turn and the par five 18th will be the easiest hole on the course.

Market Leaders

Patrick Reed heads the market and rightly so. The 2018 US Masters champ won the Northern Trust only last month and he's a class act on his day but his third round 71 in Germany last week was his best effort all week and I have to wonder how competitive he'll be this week after a long hard PGA Tour season. It's great that he makes the effort to play in Europe but I'm not convinced he's going at it with all guns blazing.

Thomas Pieters contended for a while last week but he dropped away tamely in the end and he's another who looks opposable. The 2015 winner, who was a [70.0] chance then, triumphed two weeks after winning the Czech Masters, and he took that title again a month ago so he's in search of a unique double - double.

Both Matt Wallace and Sergio Garcia don't appear to be playing well enough to represent value at less than [20.0] and Martin Kaymer is looking to win for the first time in more than five years so good luck if you're backing him at [20.0]!

Mike Lorenzo-Vera looks short enough given he's still looking for his first win on the European Tour and home hero, Joost Luiten, is lightly raced following injury. He has won the event twice before at different venues though so he'd be my idea of the best bet towards the head of the market but again, he looks short enough to me at just [22.0].

Selections

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Given three of the last four winners have been [70.0] or bigger before the off, and that I really don't have a strong fancy towards the head of the market (Bernd Wiesberger why aren't you playing?!), I'm going to be really cautious before the off.

I've thrown a few pounds at Dave's each-way fancy, Mikko Korhonen, who both Paul and I were keen on too, and my each-way selection, Branden Stone, and I've also layed everyone priced at less than [50.0] for modest sums.

As a result, my worst result, should I do nothing further, would be Pieters, who loses me £340. The field wins me £300, Korhonen £1,275 and Stone £3,358.

If anyone's new to laying and would like to learn more, there are some great guides here and my plan is to try not to meddle too early and to trade the event vigorously in round four. Even if one of the players I've layed today goes on to win, given how volatile the market typically is on a Sunday on the European Tour, I'm hopeful I can turn the book green.

Chris Wood was matched at just [1.17] before getting beat last year, Kiradech Aphibarnrat's price dipped to [1.4] before Wattel won two years ago and three players traded at odds-on in 2016.

Selections:
Mikko Korhonen @ [65.0]
Brandon Stone @ an average of [305.0]

Lay Book
First 12 in the betting layed at [48.0] and below
Worst Case Scenario - Thomas Pieters -£340
Field wins £300

I'll be back shortly with my Greenbrier Classic preview.

*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter

Steven Rawlings,

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