Englishman Simon Dyson will attempt to emulate World Number One Tiger Woods when he travels to Kennemer Golf and Country Club in Zandvoort this week for The KLM Open.
The tournament in The Netherlands will be the 42nd event on The 2007 European Tour International Schedule but, until now, only the 31 year old American has the distinction of successfully defending a tournament he won during 2006, having achieved the feat in the WGC – CA Championship, the WGC – Bridgestone Invitational and the US PGA Championship.
But now Dyson has the chance to join Woods in the exclusive club following his play-off victory over Australian Richard Green 12 months ago, a birdie three at the first extra hole being good enough for the Englishman to take The 2006 KLM Open after the pair had tied on 14 under par 270.
The win was Dyson’s second of the season following his maiden Tour victory in the Enjoy Jakarta HSBC Indonesia Open at the beginning of March and helped the 29 year old to a career high finish of 21st on The European Tour Order of Merit.
“To win once is nice but to get another victory in the same year is always extra special,” he said. “Before that I had only won in Asia as a professional (including three victories on the Asian Tour) so to finally get a win on European soil under my belt was great and I am really looking forward to going back to defend.
“It is a prestigious event with a long history so it was nice to get my name on a trophy that already has names like Seve Ballesteros, Bernhard Langer, Colin Montgomerie and José Maria Olazábal on it. No-one can ever take that away from me which is great, and it would be nice to add it again.”
Despite consistent form in 2007, the highlight of which was a tie for sixth place in the US PGA Championship at Southern Hills two weeks ago following a superb closing round of 64, Dyson has not been able to add to his two European Tour victories of 2006.
“I have played great this year but nothing has really gone for me and I just haven’t seemed to have had that little bit of luck, which you always need to have to win, when I’ve needed it,” he said.
“I had a chance of winning in Singapore and Malaysia where I finished third and I was fourth in Spain too, but in all of those tournaments when you need to hole a key putt near the end somewhere, I haven’t been able to do that.
“But sometimes going back to where you have won gives you good feelings. I defended Indonesia and I finished 11th there and I do enjoy the course at Kennemer, so hopefully a return will enable me to come up with the goods again.”
Mention of Langer is appropriate for the three time former champion, who won at Rosendaelsche in 1984 and at Noordwijske in both 1992 and 2001, has targeted the event for his competitive comeback after having had a recent spell in hospital to remove kidney stones.
The former European Ryder Cup Captain, who led his team to a record 18.5 - 9.5 victory at Oakland Hills in 2004, turns 50 the day after the tournament finishes in The Netherlands but has shown recently that age is nothing but a number with some superb golf on both sides of the Atlantic.
In May the German was pipped by Rory Sabbatini in a play-off for the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial on the US PGA Tour while, in June, he came close to making history on his last European Tour outing when he finished tied second in his native land at the BMW International Open in Munich, running eventual winner Niclas Fasth close on a thrilling final day at Golfclub München Eichenried.
Had he triumphed, Langer would have become the oldest player to win an event on The European Tour and he would have also been the first player to have won having qualified for the weekend’s action right on the cut mark. Sadly for his legions of German supporters, neither eventuality came to pass, but he showed he still has the potential to add to his haul of 66 individual victories worldwide.
The week will have a special significance for Langer for it will mark the debut in a European Tour event of his 17 year old Stefan as his father plays in his 435th.
Stefan caddied for his father when, together with Marcel Siem, he won the 2006 World Cup for Germany in Barbados but this will be the first time they have lined up against one another on The European Tour. It will also be the first father and son to play in the same event on European soil since Craig and Kevin Stadler competed in the 2002 Omega European Masters in Switzerland.