The TNT Dutch Open returns to Noordwijkse for the first time since 1993 with Lee Westwood defending the title. Twelve months ago Westwood, the winner of three of his last seven events, shot a course-record equalling 63 in the final round at Hilversumsche to claim the title ahead of Scotland's Gary Orr.
This year Westwood has been mining a rich vein of form since the Benson and Hedges International Open, winning the Deutsche Bank-SAP Open TPC of Europe, Compaq European Grand Prix and the Smurfit European Open. He was also tied second in the Volvo PGA Championship, tied fourth in The Compass Group English Open and fifth in the US Open, his best finish in a major.
Westwood, currently third in the Volvo Order of Merit, trails Darren Clarke by 186,392 euro and Ernie Els by 218,380 euro. Victory this week could take Westwood to the top of the Volvo Order of Merit but Clarke, looking for his third title of the year, will no doubt have other ideas. Clarke, who led the Volvo Order of Merit since claiming the WGC - Andersen Consulting Match Play Championship in February, when he defeated Tiger Woods in the final, until being overtaken by Els last weekend, will be looking to regain the top spot. Joining Clarke and Westwood are in the high quality field which includes Open Championship runner-up Thomas Björn.
Bernhard Langer returns to the course where he won the second of his TNT Dutch Open titles in 1992. He also won the title at Rosendaelsche in 1984. Other past champions in the field include Gordon Brand Jnr (1987), Stephen Leaney (1998), Stephen McAllister (199), Mark McNulty (1996), Mark Mouland (1988), and Sven Strüver (1997) and Paul Way (1982).
The event was first played in The Hague in 1919 and among the early winners were South Africa's Bobby Locke and Argentina's Roberto de Vicenzo, both major champions. More recently Seve Ballesteros (1976, 1980 and 1986), Langer, José Maria Olazábal (1989) and the late Payne Stewart (1991), all winners of major championships, have won the prestigious title.
The TNT Dutch Open returns to Noordwijkse for the eighth time.
As well as the 225,000 euro first prize, there will be four Lancia Lybra cars, valued at £22,000 each, at stake for an ace on each of the four short holes while the reward for the first eagle two at the final hole will be a 14 metre, 16-tonne motor launch worth $250,000.