All eyes will be on the home contingent when the Challenge Tour arrives in The Netherlands this week for The Dutch Futures presented by The Royal Bank of Scotland.
In what has been an exceptionally strong year for Dutch golf, Wil Besseling and Taco Remkes – who will be playing on his home course – have both won on the Challenge Tour this season.
Thanks largely to their respective successes at the II Club Colombia Masters and the Scottish Challenge, both men currently sit in the top 11 of the Rankings, and so remain on course to join compatriots and fellow Challenge Tour champions Robert-Jan Derksen, Maarten Lafeber and Joost Luiten on The European Tour.
Besseling, who has recorded eight top ten finishes this season as well as capturing his maiden Challenge Tour title in Columbia, said: “I think there are a lot of Dutch guys coming through the ranks now. They see guys like Joost on The European Tour, and think that if he can do it they can as well. It’s not that far away."
Remkes added: “There used to be a big gap between the guys on The European Tour and those coming through the ranks on the Challenge Tour, but it’s closing all the time. Joost, Robert-Jan and Maarten are all doing really well on The European Tour, so hopefully we can join them soon. As they’ve shown in the past, they are good enough to win tournaments, and so are we. We’re confident, and we help each other. If you don’t have that confidence, it’s difficult to win.”
Also in the field at Golf Club Houtrak on the outskirts of Amsterdam is Reinier Saxton, who at Turnberry in June – just eight days before Remkes’ own victory in Scotland – became the second Dutchman after Rolf Muntz to win the British Amateur Championship.
Muntz, winner of the 2000 Qatar Masters, resumes Challenge Tour duty having hit the headlines earlier in the year at The KLM Open, which he led after the first day following a stunning opening round of 64. The 39 year old eventually finished in a tie for 34th place alongside Norway’s Jan-Are Larsen, who finished tied third at the inaugural edition of The Dutch Futures last year after a closing round of 64. That event was won by Scotland’s Peter Whiteford, who subsequently graduated to The European Tour along with the runner-up François Delamontagne of France.
Whiteford produced one of the highlights of the season with a superb round of 63 in treacherous conditions on the third day, before closing with a rather more nervy 73 to take the title by two shots from Delamontagne.
The highest home finisher at last year’s tournament – which was also played at Golf Club Houtrak’s 6,996 yards par 72 course – was Inder van Weerelt, who at 36th in the Rankings needs to take home the lion’s share of the €140,000 prize fund if he is to graduate to The European Tour.
Commenting on the success his compatriots have enjoyed this year, Van Weerelt said: “In the last few years, the Dutch Federation has really got its act together. The guys won the European Boys Trophy and the Eisenhower Trophy, and now we have Wil and Taco’s wins on the Challenge Tour and Reinier Saxton winning the British Amateur, so it has really snowballed. They have set up a Golf Team Holland which helps young professionals in their first years to get them through and help get sponsors, which works very well.”