Ahead of the 99th staging of the KLM Open we bring you five key story lines to look out for in Spijk this week.
99 not out
The KLM Open was first played in 1912 and this year will mark the 99th edition of one of the European Tour’s longest-running events.
The tournament is one of only six to be played every season since the European Tour’s first year in 1972, alongside The Open Championship, Open de France, Italian Open, European Masters and the BMW PGA Championship.
Over the years a number of the European Tour’s finest players have triumphed in The Netherlands, most notably its founder John Jacobs (1957), Seve Ballesteros (1976, 1980, 1986), Bernhard Langer (1984, 1992, 2001), José María Olazábal (1989), Colin Montgomerie (1993), Miguel Ángel Jiménez (1994), and Lee Westwood (1999), among others.
Seve’s first win
Ballesteros’s 1976 win in The Netherlands was his first on the European Tour. Aged just 19 years and 121 days old, the Spaniard claimed his debut victory in style by a commanding eight-stroke margin. During a career which spanned three decades Ballesteros would go on to win a further 49 European Tour titles – he still sits on top of the all-time European Tour wins’ list with 50.
Wattel to defend
Returning to The Dutch with fond memories is Romain Wattel, who won his first European Tour title at the KLM Open 12 months ago.
Should the Frenchman successfully defend his title this week he would become just the second player after Bob Byman (1977-8) to achieve the feat since the event became an official European Tour tournament in 1972.
The magnificent seven
Wattel will face stiff competition this week, with six other past champions also in the field: Westwood (1999), Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano (2005), Simon Dyson (2006, 2009, 2011), Ross Fisher (2007), Martin Kaymer (2010) and Peter Hanson (2012).
Since its first appearance on the European Tour in 2016, The Dutch has made a big impression, and will host the KLM Open for the third time this year.
A member of the prestigious network of European Tour Destinations, The Dutch’s signature Championship Course was designed by Europe’s 2010 Ryder Cup-winning Captain Colin Montgomerie, in conjunction with European Golf Design, and officially opened in 2011.
The dramatic, undulating landscape is a stand-out feature and the TV cameras have reveled in capturing the rolling fairways and its links-style gorse mounds.
Water hazards come into play on 12 holes at the par-71 course while the large greens give plenty of exciting pin placement options. The stunning clubhouse and superb practice facilities are also noteworthy as The Dutch continues to build its reputation as one of The Netherlands’ finest venues.