The KLM Open, one of the longest standing tournaments on the DP World Tour, takes place at Bernardus Golf for the third consecutive time this week. Here are your five things to know.
Perez defends after thrilling play-off success
In one of the most dramatic finishes on the DP World Tour last season, Victor Perez defeated Ryan Fox on the fourth hole of a sudden death play-off to clinch the title. Kiwi Fox had seemed set to win when he chipped in for a birdie on the 11th, holed from 80 feet for an eagle on the 12th and then holed from 45 feet for birdie on the 14th to establish a three-shot lead only to finish with a double-bogey seven. Playing two groups behind, Perez birdied the 17th before he missed a chance from seven feet at the par-five 18th to win in regulation. From then on, the Frenchman seemingly could do no wrong with his putter as he holed from 15 feet to match Fox’s birdie on their first trip back to the 18th. After both players made a par at the second attempt, Perez once again came up trumps with the flat stick as he holed from 30 feet to stay in contention after Fox had set up a tap-in birdie. When the action switched to the par-three 17th, Perez holed another long-range putt for birdie before a stunned Fox was unable to respond. Since then, the 31-year-old has won a first Rolex Series title at the start of the year, sits third on the Race to Dubai Rankings in Partnership with Rolex and will be aiming to boost his hopes of a Ryder Cup debut at Marco Simone Golf & Country Club.
History of the event
The KLM Open is one of the DP World Tour’s founding events since its inception in 1972, with its only absence from the schedule coming in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. But it was a fixture in golf long before that, first being staged in 1912. Since that inaugural edition more than a century ago, there have been 77 winners from 18 different countries. Belgium’s Flory Van Donck holds the record for most victories with five, with home favourite Joost Luiten the only multiple winner of the event in this week’s field. Past European Ryder Cup captains Seve Ballesteros, Bernhard Langer, José María Olazábal and Colin Montgomerie are among those to have lifted the trophy in the event's DP World Tour era.
With a long-standing tradition in the Dutch sporting calendar, the event is well attended by local fans and they will not be in short supply of home stars to follow. Tournament ambassador Luiten is going in search of a third title at his national open having first won the title in 2013 at Kennemer and then most recently three years later at The Dutch. The six-time DP World Tour winner has impressed so far this year on a Career Money List exemption, registering four top tens to sit in the top 20 on the Race to Dubai Rankings. Fellow DP World Tour members Wil Besseling, Daan Huizing and Darius van Driel are all also participating this week at Bernardus as they look to emulate their countryman as a home champion. All three are chasing an elusive DP World Tour win, with Van Driel having finished fourth at last year’s event. They will be joined by a host of other Dutch players, both professional and amateur.
A range of sustainability initiatives are taking place at the Bernardus complex this week, both social and environment led. On Tuesday afternoon, 20 children are taking part in an hour-long GolfSixes event in which they will play across a temporary course comprising six holes which can fit into the dimensions of a football pitch. Besseling and Challenge Tour member Lars Van Meijel will be involved, with the Confederation of Professional Golf, the Dutch PGA and Netherlands Golf Federation running it. In addition, there will be no plastic bottles on site, reusable cups will be in use across public catering and a car-pooling initiative will be run that sees fans get cheaper tickets the more people they travel with. New for 2023, the KLM Open College will take place across the week in the media centre. Former professionals, caddies, journalists and others involved in the game will answer questions from members of the public to get an insight into Tour life and the DP World Tour.
U.S. Open on the horizon
For the second consecutive year, the KLM Open counts as a qualifying tournament for the U.S. Open. Two players will secure a spot in the Major Championship through a four-tournament mini Order of Merit on the DP World Tour. Simon Forsström, who won the Soudal Open earlier this month, and Romain Langasque currently occupy the two qualifying berths via this route and will be looking to solidify their position this week. Adrian Meronk tops the standings after his winning his third DP World Tour title in Italy but is already exempt for the third men’s Major Championship of the season due to being in the top 60 on the Official World Golf Ranking at Monday’s cut-off. Following this week’s third leg of four, the series reaches a conclusion at next week’s Porsche European Open in Germany.
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