Tobias Dier defends his Dutch Open title this week, returning to Hilversumche Golf Club and the course on which he produced a scintillating 60 in the opening round to set up his second victory on The European Tour International Schedule.
Dier’s opening 60, at the time the tenth such score recorded on The European Tour, provided the foundation for a three stroke victory over Jamie Spence, with Padraig Harrington and Peter Lonard sharing third.
The round also broke a series of 2002 records. It was the lowest start by a winner as well as the lowest first 18 hole score and his five stroke advantage at the end of day one was the largest of the season. It did not stop there for the 2001 North West of Ireland Open champion either, as further rounds of 67-67 saw him set the lowest 36 hole total of the season (127) and the lowest 54 hole aggregate of the season (194).
The 27 year old German will have to overcome a host of champions from The 2003 European Tour International Schedule if he is to retain the title with Arjun Atwal, Robert-Jan Derksen, Bradley Dredge, Kenneth Ferrie, Darren Fichardt, Mark Foster, Søren Kjeldsen and Brett Rumford, all vying for glory.
Perhaps the most keen to notch victory will be host nation favourite Derksen, who held off the mighty challenge of Ernie Els to win the Dubai Desert Classic in March and who would love to become the first Dutch winner of the event since it joined The European Tour in 1972.
It would be a double success for the 29 year old, for there would be no better place than in his homeland to become the first Dutch golfer in history to win twice in one season on The European Tour.
Derksen, currently 36th on the Volvo Order of Merit, will face a strong home challenge, most notably from the consistent Maarten Lafeber who has finished outside the top 40 only once in his last nine European Tour starts, and who starts the week only one place behind Derksen on the Volvo Order of Merit, in 37th place.
Highest ranked player in the field is England’s Brian Davis, currently 11th on the Volvo Order of Merit. Davis has been runner-up twice this season so far and recorded a further eight top ten finishes, including joint sixth in the 132nd Open Golf Championship at Royal St George’s, and a victory to cap an outstanding season is statistic he will be aiming for this week.
Another Englishman looking to furnish a consistent season with victory is David Howell, currently 16th on the Volvo Order of Merit, and looking to build on the recent run of form that has seen him finish in the top ten in each of his last four events on European soil.
The Dutch Open is one of the oldest in Continental Europe dating back to 1912 and boasting a long list of illustrious champions including Major Champions Seve Ballesteros, Bernhard Langer, Bobby Locke, José Maria Olazábal, Payne Stewart, JH Taylor and Roberto de Vicenzo, along with recent Volvo Order of Merit winners Colin Montgomerie and Lee Westwood.