Home favourite Joost Luiten is keen to make up for lost time when he tees up at the 100th KLM Open in Amsterdam.
The Bleiswijk native was forced to miss last year’s event at The Dutch due to a wrist injury, which needed an operation and sidelined the 33-year-old for five months.
However, Luiten is optimistic ahead of his return at the International in Amsterdam - which is situated 75 kilometres from his home town.
He is a two time winner of the tournament - claiming victory in 2013 at Kennemer Golf & Country Club before a three shot success at The Dutch in 2016 - and another will lift Luiten into an elite group of Seve Ballesteros, Bernhard Langer and Simon Dyson to secure three triumphs in his homeland.
“I am really excited. I missed it last year and I was gutted I couldn’t play because of my wrist operation but that is also part of being a professional golfer, sometimes you need to take care of your body. So I’m really happy to be back,” Luiten said.
“I love this event. I have done well in the past, I’ve won it twice and had a couple good results, so for some reason this always feels like my event really and hopefully we can take that feeling on to the golf course again.
“They were totally different. Winning in the play-off against one of the greatest European players in Miguel Ángel Jiménez was great, but also beating the field by three shots was great, and at least I could enjoy the last hole a bit more.
“You can’t compare the two, every win is special and hopefully there are plenty more.
“You need to play some really good golf around this track. I think the wind is going to be a big factor, it’s pretty open and no trees to hide, so the wind is going to make it tough.
“I think you have to be careful with the greens and miss it in the right places. If you have some good iron play, if you can hit the fairways and the greens you can have a good score.
“The fact that we are so close to Schiphol Airport and KLM Headquarters, it is great for the tournament because it’s the 100 year anniversary of the Dutch Open and 100 years for KLM as a company, so it is a great combination and a great spot to be.”
Wu Ashun is excited to return to Holland as reigning champion following his dramatic victory 12 months ago.
Wu became the first Chinese player to win three times on the European Tour by making a birdie on the final hole to secure a one-stroke victory over Englishman Chris Wood at The Dutch.
A stunning second into the par five last set up the closing gain in a 67 and with Wood making a par, Wu claimed his first victory since the 2016 Lyoness Open powered by Sporthilfe Cashback Card, and he cannot wait to tackle The International.
“I am very happy to come back to the KLM Open and defend my title,” Wu said. “I still the remember winning like yesterday, the memories come back quite quickly, and it is very exciting to be back here.
“Last year is still exciting, every shot is still in your mind, so very happy to be back at the KLM Open.
“My second shot on 18 was amazing. When we had the pin position and I spoke to my caddie, we had to make at least a birdie to win, and I had to go for the pin. It was a very good shot for me.
“The course looks great. I played nine holes this morning and the conditions of the greens and fairways are very good. I am looking forward to this week and it is going to be a tough course if the wind is blowing.”