It’s fairly rare that we’re introduced to a completely new course but that happens to be the case this week. The Dutch in Spijk, Holland replaces Kennemer G&CC as host of the KLM Open. The Par 71 course was designed by Colin Montgomerie and European Golf Design and measures just under 7,000 yards.
Obviously, with a new course, there’s a lot of guess work involved but we do have some information to work with. Water is in play on almost every hole, the greens are incredibly pure and the rough is very thick. Joost Luiten was at the course last week and tweeted a picture of his ball in the second cut. It doesn’t look like a terribly pleasant place to be.
As far as similar courses, I’d look to The Twenty Ten Course at Celtic Manor Resort. Both were designed by European Golf Design’s Ross McMurray with hosting the Ryder Cup in mind. They both play to a Par of 71 and have plenty of water and thick rough aswell.
The European Tour continues to be almost completely useless when it comes to keeping relevant statistical data. After looking at the course, however, I’m pretty happy to look for players that can keep the ball in play by hitting plenty of fairways and greens. The greens are said to be lightning-quick and that’s always a difficult setup to judge. I tend to find that poor putters come out on top whenever greens reach their fastest.
Thomas Pieters and Alex Norén are the worthy favourites and both are around 10/1. They’re both playing incredibly well right now and their play suggests they can handle this course well. Pieters is the defending champion at the KLM Open and Norén is a winner at Celtic Manor.
I’ll be avoiding both at short prices though. The Belgian did manage to win in back-to-back starts last year and was a runner-up in his first attempt as a defending champion but on a new course, it’s a huge ask. Norén has always struggled in his first start after a win on the European Tour and has never managed better than T23 following a win.
Joost Luiten is third in the betting at 18/1 and despite a lack of form in recent months, the Dutchman makes a lot of sense. A lot of golfers struggle to perform when it comes to their home event but Luiten isn’t one of them. The 30-year-old has finished T6, T5, 2nd and 1st at his home open and is also the most recent winner at Celtic Manor. As mentioned above, Luiten has been practising at the course aswell so he should be prepared for the challenge.
It’s not a great idea to take risks on a new course and I’ll just be having one bet this week. At 80/1 with 7 Places on offer, I’ll be taking a chance on Tommy Fleetwood. The Englishman isn’t having his best year on tour. A lone Top 10 in seventeen starts has left Fleetwood at 83rd in the Race to Dubai rankings. A win this week could turn his whole season around though.
Fleetwood has been almost flawless from tee-to-green in his last two starts. The 25-year-old ranked 4th and 9th in Fairways in Regulation. He also ranked 5th and 19th in Driving Distance and 4th and 20th in Greens in Regulation. One good putting week will vault Fleetwood into contention and at a new course, I fancy his chances. A runner-up finish when the tour last visited Celtic Manor is also encouraging.
Romain Langasque is once again an intriguing prospect at 66/1 but on a course that has thick rough and plenty of water, the guy that only hit 25 FIR last week is a dodgy bet. I also looked at Thomas Detry, Renato Paratore, Romain Wattel and Mike Lorenzo-Vera but I’ll just stick with Fleetwood for now.