Damien Kayat previews the DP World Tour's Soudal Open taking place at the Rinkven International Golf Club in Belgium.
2021/2022 DP World Tour
Rinkven International Golf Club, Antwerp, Belgium
The Tour heads to Belgium
Thorbjorn Olesen truly grasped victory from the jaws of defeat at last week’s British Masters, finishing in swashbuckling fashion to win his first title in four years. Will this be the final step in his rehabilitation following those shocking British Airways allegations?
The now seven-time DP World Tour champion is a truly exceptional talent who has the natural ability to compete with the American elite. The tour now turns to Belgium for the newly-minted Soudal Open.
This is essentially a reimagining of the Belgiun Open. The Belgian Open was first staged in 1910 and was won by Frenchman Arnaud Massey. It has only been an intermittent presence on the European Tour and was last staged under the guise of the Belgian Knockout.
The Belgian Knockout was staged in 2018 and 2019 and was helpfully contested on this week’s host course: Rinkvin International Golf Club.
Accuracy likely to be key this week
Originally designed by Paul Rolin, Rinkvin has been expanded to include two 18-hole courses. This week’s layout is a composite of the North and South courses (seemingly the same combination used at the now-defunct Belgian Knockout).
The course is a generally flat parkland affair with Poa Annua fairways and greens. There are some tighter fairways that will require some circumspection from the tee. It is almost comically short by modern standards and seems to reward the more accurate types.
All eight of the Belgian Knockout semi-finalists favoured accuracy over distance. I would heavily favour those who find fairways and greens this week. Perhaps form at courses such as Valderrama and the Belfry should correlate well this week.
Pieters to make statement on home soil ahead of PGA Championship?
Thomas Pieters will obviously attract large support from the Belgian faithful this week. The former Ryder Cupper will be using Rinkvin as preparation for next week’s PGA Championship.
He hasn’t been able to build on his magnificent victory in Abu Dhabi and he could be one to swerve this week. Bernd Wiesberger is a serial winner and makes an understandable favourite this week.
He will need to improve on some dodgy putting stats should he aim to contest this week. Adrian Otaegui has three top 5 finishes this year and may arrive as the most consistent player in the field.
Winners of Belgian Knockout
2019: Guido Migliozzi beat Darius van Driel
2018: Adrian Otaegui beat Benjamin Herbert
To Win Outright:
Bernd Wiesberger 18/1 | Thomas Pieters 20/1 | Ryan Fox 22/1 | Sam Horsfield 22/1 | Thomas Detry 22/1
Victor Perez- To Win 33/1 | To Place 7/1
Frenchman Victor Perez hasn’t been able to reach the heights that propelled him into the Ryder Cup conversation over the past two years. He has two WGC top 4’s and finished inside the top 10 at last year’s Players. But his form took a significant wobble over the last six months or so. But he has improved in recent times, finishing in a tie for 8th at last month’s ISPA Handa Championship. He also had a decent 21st at the Belfry last week. Perez finished 6th here in the 2018 Belgian Knockout and he tends to thrive on courses that put a premium on accuracy (he finished runner up at Wentworth in 2020).
Richard McEvoy- To Win 200/1 | To Place 43/1
This certainly qualifies as a long shot. But does it? The 42-year-old Englishman captured the hearts of many with his brilliant victory at the 2018 Porsche European Open. Sure, his form hasn’t exactly been startling over the last two years. But this shorter layout should appeal to McEvoy. He qualified for the Matchplay weekend in both appearances at the Belgian Knockout. Furthermore, he finished 3rd in his penultimate start at the Catalunya Championship. 43/1 to place is excellent value for the metronomic McEvoy.
The Man to Beat- Adrian Otaegui- To Win 25/1 | To Place 11/2
You have to fancy Adrian Otaegui in the upper reaches of the market. The three-time DP World Tour winner has been excellent this season. He finished 3rd at the Ras al Khaimah Championship in February, 5th at the Qatar Masters in March and 2nd at the ISPS Handa Championship just last month. He is exactly the type of short and accurate hitter that was born to thrive on this track. This was clearly evident when he won the Belgian Knockout here in 2018. 25/1 looks a great price for someone with previous success on this course who also happens to be in form.