The European Tour makes its annual trip to Holland this week for the KLM Open, a popular event with players and spectators alike which sees local favourite Joost Luiten seeking to defend his title, writes Phil Casey.
For years the event moved around between venerable courses such as Kennemer, Hilversum and Noordwijk, but last year moved to The Dutch in Spijk, which only opened in 2011.
It’s a contradiction in terms, but the course is known as an ‘inland links’ with water in play on 12 holes and large greens which feature run-off areas that require a good variety of recovery shots.
The lack of course form makes picking a winner a tricky prospect, with Luiten – seeking a third victory in his national open – installed as a 16/1 favourite largely on the back of his win 12 months ago.
Luiten finished with a superb 63 last year but has recorded just one top-10 finish in 2017 and although he is a good player in bad weather, we’ll look elsewhere for our KLM Open betting predictions in the hope of better value.
With wind and rain in the forecast and a ‘links’ course to contend with, top-level experience in the amateur ranks could be a good place to start and that points us toward England’s Tom Lewis at 50/1.
Lewis sprang to prominence in 2011 when he shared the lead after an opening 65 in the Open Championship at Royal St George’s and went on to finish 30th, before helping Great Britain and Ireland win the Walker Cup.
Having turned professional, Lewis then won the Portugal Masters in just his third event in the paid ranks and was named European Tour rookie of the year, but struggled to build on those results and had to reclaim his card via the qualifying school in 2016.
However, having ended the year ranked 623rd in the world, the 26-year-old has been gradually improving throughout the season and recovered from an opening 75 to finish third in the Czech Masters a fortnight ago.
A closing 65 also lifted Lewis into a tie for 20th in the European Masters last week and his missed cut in this event last year can readily be forgiven.
Another in-form player with good links form is Finland’s Mikko Ilonen and he’s the second of our KLM Open betting tips at the same 50/1 odds as Lewis.
Ilonen’s win in the Amateur Championship was admittedly way back in 2000, but his recent upturn in form started with a new set of irons and an opening 65 in the Scottish Open.
Although he could not turn that into a good finish at Dundonald, Ilonen has since finished eighth and fifth in his two strokeplay starts, as well as starting the Paul Lawrie Matchplay with an 8&7 victory before losing to eventual runner-up Marcel Siem.
The last of our KLM Open selections could be worth backing in two markets, with England’s Ashley Chesters available at 90/1 in the outright betting and 28/1 to finish as the top Englishman.
Chesters won the European Amateur Championship in 2013 and 2014 before finishing 12th in the 2015 Open at St Andrews and then winning three and a half points from four matches in that year’s Walker Cup victory.
After spending 2016 on the Challenge Tour, Chesters gained his European Tour card through the qualifying school and has recorded three top-10 finishes in his rookie campaign.
Best bets for the KLM Open
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