By Steve Todd, europeantour.com
Joost Luiten will lead the home challenge in this week’s KLM Open, as he looks to become the first Dutch player to win the title in a decade.
Luiten is steadily building a reputation as one of Europe’s most promising talents, having claimed his second European Tour title in the Lyoness Open powered by Greenfinity earlier this season, followed by top five finishes in Ireland and Wales.
Maarten Lafeber was the last player to win the KLM Open ten years ago, although Luiten came close in 2007 when he finished runner-up to Ross Fisher at Kennemer Golf and Country Club, which hosts the tournament again this year following a three-year stint at Hilversumsche.
“We haven’t played there for a few years and I like the course,” he said. “I finished second in 2007 and if I take my form to the course I know I can do well. It is a great old fashioned golf course and it is going to be in great condition. Hopefully the weather can help us a bit, but the course is going to be nice.
“Every year when we play in Holland there is a lot going on around you and you have to do a lot of stuff, so you have to find a balance. I don’t mind, it is part of the job. You just have to try to play your game and stay focused.”
Englishman Fisher is also looking forward to going back to the course where he finished one shot clear of Luiten in 2007 to win his maiden European Tour title.
The Ryder Cup player has added three more victories since then, and as he prepares to return to a venue with some special memories, he is also hitting form again, following a top five finish in last week’s Omega European Masters in Switzerland.
“It is six years since I won at Kennemer so it will be nice to go back,” he said. “We were there in 2008 as well when funnily enough my caddie was on the bag for Darren Clarke.
“I’m excited to go back as a former champion and it will be interesting to see if the course has changed at all and hopefully we will get four days of good weather like with did in 2007.
“It is a quirky course. It has a links feel to it but then some holes are tree-lined. It reminds me a bit of Sunningdale back home.”
Another Englishman with a strong record both at Kennemer Golf and Country Club, and the KLM Open in general, is Simon Dyson, who won the title at the venue in 2006 and 2009, before triumphing again at Hilversumsche in 2011. He is bidding to become only the sixth player to win the same regular European Tour event four times.
He was succeeded as champion last year by Sweden’s Peter Hanson, but the Ryder Cup player is unable to defend his title this week after a recurrence of an on-going back injury.