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European Tour 2019: The KLM Open Preview

Golfer admires shot

The tour moves 300 miles from Hamburg to Amsterdam this week, for the 100th edition of the KLM Open. Originally known as the Dutch Open, this tournament is one of only seven events that have been around since the inception of the European Tour. After three years at Colin Montgomerie’s Dutch Club, the event makes way for the inaugural edition hosted by the International.  

European Tour 2019 | The KLM Open
The International, Badhoevedorp, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Thursday 12 September – Sunday 15 September 2019

The tour enjoyed yet another scintillating finish in Hamburg last week, with Paul Casey holding his nerve for a dramatic victory. The cast of characters has slightly thinned this week, with many prepping for next week’s showcase PGA Championship at Wentworth.

This week will once again see players tacking a par 73 with five par 5’s. This is a completely different beast at a shade under 7,000 yards. The strategic plodders will certainly have more hope this week. Designed by Ian Woosnam in association with Belgian architect firm Mastergolf, the International has a links-style feel, with huge undulations and massive bentgrass greens. One specific test for players will be their ability to deal with the scattershot airplane chorus from nearby airport: Schiphol Airport. Conditions this week are expected to be quite benign, so one could probably expect a birdie fest that rewards hot putting.

Patrick Reed will play his 2nd consecutive European Tour event after struggling to come to grips with the monster in Hamburg. Matt Wallace leads the European contingent, though it is probably Thomas Pieters who enters in the best form. Sergio Garcia will be desperate for something to go well while former champion Joost Luiten will no doubt galvanize the home faithful. The truncated field not only has to contend with next week’s event in Wentworth, but it’s also the return of the US PGA Tour this week, which always tends to dominate proceedings.

Past Winners
2018: Ashun Wu (-16)
2017: Romain Wattel (-15)
2016: Joost Luiten (-19)
2015: Thomas Pieters (-19)
2014: Paul Casey (-14)

Outright Betting (To Win)
Patrick Reed (9/1)
Thomas Pieters (12/1)
Martin Kaymer (16/1)
Sergio Garcia (16/1)
Joost Luiten (16/1)

Value Bets

Victor Perez
To Win (55/1), To Place (12/1)

Frenchman Victor Perez is one of the exciting young prospects that has graduated via the Challenge Tour in recent time, rising through the ranks alongside the uber-talented Adri Arnaus. Just two weeks ago Perez managed a top 10 finish at the Scandinavian Invitational. He actually had a share of the lead in that event. He currently sits 26th in Greens in Regulation and 28th in shots gained, tee to green. His tie for 15th at the British Masters earlier this year may be the most convincing piece of evidence I can conjure. It shows an affinity for links courses, which should stand him in good stead this week. You have to like him in the place markets at 12/1.

Ashley Chesters
To Win (90/1), To Place (19/1)

Ashley Chesters strikes me as a great option on the more speculative end of the betting stakes. He shared in 9th place last week at the European Open, which was the icing on the cake for what has been an increasingly upward trajectory for Chesters: he tied for 18th at the Czech Open a few weeks back. Chesters isn’t particularly long and should relish the more strategic test that faces him this week. He was 6th in Greens in Regulation last week, which should prove a vital statistic this week.  He will be extra motivated, as time runs out to secure European playing rights next season.

The Man to Beat

Mike Lorenzo Vera
To Win (16/1), To Place (7/2)

I decided to steer a little bit clear of the utter frontrunners this week. Reed looks slightly short while Pieters is mercurial at best.  Mike Lorenzo Vera may still be looking for his maiden European Tour title, but what a consistent year he has had. He has twice been a runner-up in 2019 and he enters this event in red-hot form. He has four top 10’s in his last seven European Tour starts: he finished in a tie for 6th just last week. He also finished in a tie for 8th at the 2016 KLM Open, showcasing his abilities in this neck of the woods. His stats are metronomic, registering in the top 20 in scoring average, shots gained putting and shots gained approach.

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