Belgium's Thomas Pieters yesterday edged out England's Lee Slattery by a stroke to win the KLM Open and to record back-to-back wins on the European Tour. Read Steve's look back at the event here...
“Rafa Cabrera-Bello has now led or been tied for the lead five times on the European Tour and he’s failed to convert every time. His form figures when leading now read 2-8-3-9-7 and I’ll be going after him again the next time he hits the front.”
Thomas Pieters, winner of the Czech Masters two weeks ago and a 70.069/1 shot before the off, and Lee Slattery, who claimed his second European Tour title just last week at the Russian Open, went clear of the field on the back nine yesterday and the only thing up for debate was which one of the two would record back-to-back victories.
Both men were matched at a low of 1.4640/85 in-running and when Pieters parred the 18th hole with Slattery having still two holes to play, the market couldn't split them and they both traded at 2.01/1. We looked all set for a play-off when Slattery, who had begun the week as a colossal 180.0179/1 chance, found the 18th green but his first putt fell some five or six feet short and when he failed to convert for par, the title went to Pieters.
As detailed in the In-Play Blog, I backed Slattery to beat Rafa Cabrera-Bello at 13/8 in yesterday's final two-ball and I layed Cabrera-Bello in the Top-5 Finish market at 1.528/15 and given the Spaniard yet again underperformed in-contention, both wagers provided enough profit to put me in front for the week but I still felt I didn't quite get what I deserved on the week.
Before the off I'd backed Eddie Pepperell to win and both Mikko Ilonen and Paul Lawrie each-way, at 125/1 and 200/1 respectively, and although Pepperell never quite looked like winning (finished 5th) the other two both had chances and they certainly looked like they might place at least. Ilonen bogeyed the opening hole having had about eight feet for birdie and that set the tone for his final round but Lawrie was matched for over £5k at just 2.68/5 after only five holes yesterday. Muggins here didn't lay anything back though, I felt he'd at least place but he never looked like threatening the judge after a double-bogey at the sixth and he eventually finished tied for 10th! It wasn't a great day but thankfully another weak finish by Cabrera-Bello created some cheer.
What Have We Learned For Next Year?
There are rumours circulating that the KLM Open might move to a brand new venue next year but fingers crossed the organisers see sense and they'll be back to Kennemer again very soon. It's a great venue and although trouble awaits the very wayward, it's one where power is now more important than accuracy.
Ross Fisher hit it further than anyone else off the tee when he won here in 2007, Paul Casey ranked third for Driving Distance when victorious 12 months ago and only Tom Lewis hit it further than Pieters last week. The Belgian ranked only 62nd for Driving Accuracy but first for Par 5 Scoring and the first six home all ranked inside the top-ten on the long holes. It looks a tight and fiddly venue but the last seven winners now have an average DD ranking of 13.7 and an average DA ranking of 31.2 and the last four winners have ranked first, seventh, third and first for Par 5 Scoring.
Keep Taking On Rafa
Rafa Cabrera-Bello has now led or been tied for the lead five times on the European Tour and he's failed to convert every time. His form figures when leading now read 2-8-3-9-7 and I'll be going after him again the next time he hits the front. He's a brilliant player but he can't seem to hold in together in-the-mix and every time he fails, the chances of him getting the job done the next time diminish. In stark contrast, we saw how much confidence a win can bring with both Pieters and Slattery boldly going for the win.
The European Tour moves on to Italy this week for the Open D'Italia and I'll be back tomorrow with my preview but I'll be back this afternoon with a look at this week's PGA Tour action. After a week off, the FedEx Cup playoff series resumes in Illinois where the top-70 in the standings will play out the BMW Championship.
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