Last weeks golf
Any chance of a Marcus Fraser 66/1 EW place ended as early as the first hole on Sunday, as 4/5 tipped picks made the cut, but none could finish higher than T36.
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I wrote before the off I feared headline pick Bernd Wiesberger’s putter might not be reliable enough to shoot the low numbers required to win round Crans, and guess what? It wasn’t. Out of 77 to make the weekend, Bernd finished last for putts per green in regulation (PPGIR) and 67/77 for putts per round (PPR)
Golf is a hard enough sport to bet on and I must revert back to an old, trusted adage, that if there is any doubt that an attribute of a short odds golfer (sub 40/1 in my eyes) might be out of sync, then they are best left alone.
The KLM Open has a long, proud history, dating way back when to 1912. It has been ever present as a European Tour event since the tour began in 1972. This year we have a new course, The Dutch, hosting the event – making it the eleventh venue to stage the event. Recent years have seen the KLM Open held on popular, historic links courses such as Kennemer and Hilversumsche so this years new layout will have a lot to live up to.
As you might expect for an event held on wind exposed, links style golf courses, British, Irish and Scandinavian golfers have fine records in this event with entirely European born winners dating back to 2000 when Australian Stephen Leaney won the second of his two KLM Open titles.
This week the field is headed by last weeks winner Alex Noren, virgin Ryder Cupper and current tournament holder, Thomas Pieters, Joost Luiten, Benny An and last weeks flop, Wiesberger.
A brand new course for the European Tour this week, which always means there is a little bit of guess work when profiling the ideal golfer for a venue. Luckily we have several decent write-ups on the internet that gives strong clues on what we can expect from ‘The Dutch’ –
“Ground-breaking construction techniques were used to create a dramatic and undulating landscape, featuring rolling fairways framed by imposing, gorse-clad mounds. An inland links in style, The Dutch also boasts smooth, lightning-quick greens and many different types of water features, including lakes, canals and traditional Scottish ‘burns.’” *
*taken from European Tour website.
Designed by Colin Montgomerie, the course plays to a par of 71 and a yardage of 6,981, which is very short for modern standards. We have five par 3’s and four par 5’s – with three of the last six holes being par 5’s – the longest being the 640 yard closing hole, the shortest being the 490 yard 6th. The par 3’s are all 200 yards of less, with 14th playing an interesting flick with a wedge 133 yards.
Course designer Monty can be heard talking about the course on the official website of the KLM Open in which he describes the greens as ‘the best the players will putt on all year’ but promises that the championship style layout will offer a ‘real test for all players’. The verdict is out, but it looks like there will be some tricky pin positions on what could be pretty speedy greens – especially given the warm, windy weather that is forecast in the week before the event.
Home hero Joost Luiten tweeted some pictures of the rough last week saying, “Rough here @GolfTheDutch is thick an juicy! You need to be straight!! Can you find the ball in the picture?” – comments like this can be taken out of context as this picture could’ve come from a wild shot – as opposed something that was just 5-10 yards off line. Either way, it must be considered a factor along with the course designers comments in regards this will be a tough test.
Thursday looks a belter with temperatures hitting the late 20s as the sun shines throughout the opening three days. Sunday morning will be wet with a 60% chance of rain. Wind will feature throughout, with 7-8mph forecast on the opening two mornings and 10-14mph on both afternoons.
Previous KLM Open Winners & Key Stats
2015 – Thomas Pieters (-19) – DA 62nd DD 2nd GIR 44th PPGIR 7th Scrambles 16/21
2014 – Paul Casey (-14) – DA 52nd DD 4th GIR 1st PPGIR 54th Scrambles 7/11
2013 – Joost Luiten (-12) – DA 14th DD 36th GIR 47th PPGIR 6th Scrambles 19/26
2012 – Peter Hanson (-14) – DA 37th DD 11th GIR 15th PPGIR 12th Scrambles 18/23
2011 – Simon Dyson (-12) – DA 35th DD 35th GIR 17th PPGIR 3rd Scrambles 14/22
Fabrizio Zanotti 66/1 with Bet365
The 2014 BMW International Open winner from Paraguay topped the driving accuracy stats last week in Crans and also finished 8th for greens hit. A T24 finish meant Zanotti has now made 8 of his last 9 cuts, including a T7 at Wentworth and a T15 in the Olympics. 4th in last years KLM Open and 2nd in 2010 means he likes this part of the world, and given his fine ball striking stats last week, I’m prepared to back him for a third time this season – ending that run of non-European KLM Open winners.
David Howell 66/1 EW with Betvictor
A solid bank of form from the five-time ET winner, Howell comes into this week with a T29 in Crans, T3 in the Czech Republic and a T22 in the Open Championship. I noticed his big issue last week was not taking advantage of the scoreable par 5’s – playing the long holes in just one under par for the week – pretty poor when you consider champion Noren played them six shots better and runner-up Hend nine shots better! A links golf specialist, Howell’s last win came at the prestigious Alfred Dunhill links in 2013 and certainly fits the profile to win the KLM Open. He ranked inside the top 6 for both PPGIR and PPR last week too.
Ross Fisher 66/1 EW with Eastbridge Sports Betting Brokerage
No real form to speak of for Ross Fisher, but he is still 13/16 cuts made this season, and briefly was seen towards the top of the USPGA Championship leaderboard before finishing T42 in the years last major. The 2007 KLM Opener winner loves links golf and should enjoy what could be a stern test. Some of his best finishes in recent times have been following a run of poor form (T3 at the WGC in Shanghai last year followed T68, MC,MC,MC) and a (T5 at the European Open followed MC, MC, MC, T68) so he is the type to appear from seemingly nowhere if the course fits.
Raphael Jacquelin 90/1 EW with Bet365
69, 69, 67, 66 meant the experienced Frenchman snuck in a T12 in Crans last week and should come into this week full of confidence. His best career displays have come on the links, in particular up in Scotland where he has several top 5 finishes, including a T2 last year in which he could have so easily added a fifth ET title. Jacquelin finished 4th in Germany and T8 in Sweden since June and appears in fine fettle.
First Round Leaders (FRL)
In a change of tactic this week, I am going to trial placing approximately 10% of my weekly golf stakes on some big priced outsiders in the FRL markets. These will be a quick short list and selections will be considered if they have shot recent low numbers or have recent showings at the top of a leaderboard at the end of day one.
These will be posted on my twitter handle @herefordrich once the draw has been completed – PM tee times and stronger winds are naturally not ideal – hence the wait.
Prices correct at time of writing.