Maarten Lafeber will try and recreate one of the great moments in golfing history for The Netherlands this week when he defends his title in The KLM Open at the Hilversumche Golf Club in Hilversum.
The 29 year old from Eindhoven thrilled the watching Dutch galleries at the same venue last year when he became the first home winner of the event in 56 years, starting the final round one shot off the pace but coming from behind to win with a closing 67 for a 13 under par total of 267.
Now Lafeber will return to Hilversumche – the 23rd time the tournament has been staged at the picturesque tree-lined venue - in an attempt to recreate the feat and admitted he was thrilled at the prospect of stepping out in front of his home supporters as the defending champion.
“To get my first win on The European Tour in front of the Dutch public last year was a very special moment,” he said. “I know, from having spoken to friends and colleagues back home in the weeks after my win, that the interest in the tournament was huge, around 600,000 people watched it on television and it just goes to show that golf is booming in The Netherlands.
“Also, the fact that the date has moved back to its summer slot is great news. There was a great atmosphere this year in October but I’m sure the Dutch public will come out in their thousands in August to make it even better and I am looking forward to playing as the defending champion.”
As well at Dutch interest, there is the added intrigue of the race for Ryder Cup points as the qualification finishing line looms with The KLM Open being the fifth last counting event for The Ryder Cup European Points List. Of the players who currently occupy one of the ten automatic qualification places, two will be in action, namely the English duo of David Howell and Ian Poulter.
However there are being pursued for their places by an eager chasing pack and leading the way in that sphere are France’s Raphaël Jacquelin and the Irish duo of Graeme McDowell and Paul McGinley, the latter being the man who holed the winning putt at The De Vere Belfry two years ago.
The KLM Open is one of the oldest in Continental Europe dating back to 1912 and boasts a long list of illustrious winners 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.