The European Tour Fantasy Race heads to one of the oldest tournaments on the Tour, the KLM Open at Hilversumsche Golf Club, which this week boasts the strongest field in its illustrious history.
With the likes of defending champion Martin Kaymer, 1999 winner Lee Westwood and Rory McIlroy all coming off top-tens at the Omega European Masters last week, they are clearly ones to watch and obvious contenders for the title, but if you like to think outside the box, then here are a few suggestions for your Fantasy team this week.
Ross Fisher has won every year since 2007, with his first win in that sequence coming at the KLM Open, but 2011 has been a bit more of a struggle with only a few glimpses of the form expected from this 2010 Ryder Cup debutant. One of these came during his title defence in Ireland, where he threatened to contend but never quite got into the mix come Sunday afternoon, eventually finishing in a tie for 17th. Put this with top tens at the Volvo World Match Play and the BMW International Open, alongside a 15th place finish at The Masters, and there is enough there to suggest that it might not be long before Fisher is back in the winner’s’ circle.
Another past champion in this event, and a fellow Englishman, is David Lynn who picked up his only European Tour title at this venue in 2004. It has been another mixed bag of a season for the 37 -year -old from Stoke-on-Trent, but as with his compatriot Fisher, he has shown glimpses of something near his best form in 2011. He finished tied ninth at the Trophée Hassan II in April and followed that up a few weeks later with a tie for second at the Iberdrola Open, finishing some three shots behind Darren Clarke. Couple these with his tie for sixth up the mountains in Crans last week, after a final round 65, and he could well be picking up his second KLM Open trophy come Sunday afternoon.
There is a definite theme here, and to keep it going, the next person to watch out for this week is Gonzalo Fernandez-Castaño, who again picked up his first win on Tour here at Hilversumsche in 2005. The Spaniard has only played six times so far this season, having suffered with an injury to his lower back for much of it, but having returned to competitive action in Ireland in July he is now starting to show some of the form usually associated with a four-time winner on Tour. He finished tied 23rd in the Czech Open, and tied 18th last week and is another one worth keeping an eye on in Holland this week.
There hasn’t been a home winner of this event since Maarten Lafeber in 2003, and the hopes of the Dutch crowd may well focus on the promising talent of Joost Luiten. He pushed Ross Fisher all the way in 2007, and after some very consistent play so far this year - including top fives at the BMW International Open and the BMW Italian Open presented by CartaSi - will be looking to get the Dutch crowd behind him once again as he takes another tilt at the title.
The final one to watch this week is Frenchman Benjamin Hebert, who in the past five events on the Challenge Tour has picked up three wins and earned himself a place on The European Tour for the rest of the season. The 24 year-old from Moliets gained his card through the Qualifying School in 2009, but failed to make an impression the following year, with a best finish of joint 25th at the Vivendi Cup, eventually finishing 142nd on the Race to Dubai. However, having returned to the Challenge Tour this season he has been on top form and will hope to carry that on this week. This event has a rich tradition of first-time winners, and Hebert could well be another one of them as he arrives on a high after his elevation to the top table.
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