First played in 1912, the Dutch Open returns after a one year hiatus with its original moniker back in place and a first time host venue.
Like many smaller European Tour events in 2020, the event was cancelled due to COVID-19, marking the first time the Dutch Open had not been played since 1945. Long-time title sponsor KLM choosing not to continue its naming rights association with the event for 2021, when Bernardus Golf welcomes the old world circuit for the first time.
The tournament receiving a blow in recent weeks when marquee player Louis Oosthuizen was forced to withdraw with injury.
DEFENDING CHAMPION: Sergio Garcia won the then named KLM Open when it was last played in 2019, the Spaniard defeating rising star Nicolai Hojgaard by one shot. Garcia is not in the field this week.
RIGHT: Sergio Garcia claimed the KLM Open title in 2019, but won't tee it up this week in the Netherlands. PHOTO: Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images.
COURSE: Bernardus Golf was due to host the event in 2020, the first of a three-year run, and finally gets the chance to showcase the Kyle Phillips design laid out on sandy soil with a distinct heathland feel.
Phillips, creator of Kingsbarns in Scotland and The Grove in England, experienced delays as the development changed hands before finally kicking into gear in 2016, when a process to remove the heavily farmed dark sand underneath the turf and replace it with the lighter sand below was undertaken.
With the ideal sandy base to work with, Phillips created a par-72 featuring gorse, fescue and native heather, with the large and natural looking bunkers framed by unkept grasses considered genuine hazards, while water comes into play on a number of holes, including the closing two.
The visually stunning layout opened for play in 2018, and despite still bedding in ranks fifth in the Netherlands and will provide an interesting test for players this week.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: With Oosthuizen’s withdrawal much of the focus will turn to home hope and two-time winner Joost Luiten.
An up and down season appears on the improve for the Dutchman, who shared 12th at the Czech Masters, was T18 in Italy and T35 at Wentworth for last week’s BMW PGA Championship.
The 35-year-old is a six-time winner in Europe and is hoping to become the seventh player to win the Dutch Open three or more times, joining some of the biggest names in European Tour history, including Seve Ballesteros and Bernhard Langer.
It hasn’t been the ideal European summer many thought Elvis Smylie might have following his breakout performance at home in Australia at the start of 2021.
The Queenslander has missed two cuts and withdrawn from another event, but gets another chance courtesy of a sponsor exemption he will be hoping to take advantage of as he looks to gain some status outside his home Tour for 2022.
Smylie’s compatriot Maverick Antcliff is another worth keeping an eye on here as he searches for his maiden win on the European Tour.
Retired midway in his last start, Antcliff has been extremely consistent this year and as a straight driver and straregic player will be a good chance around a new venue that appears to favour golfers able to plot their ball around rather than overpower a layout.
After a top-10 at the U.S. Open, Branden Grace has been rocks and diamonds with his play.
A part of the massive play-off at the PGA Tour’s Wyndham Championship, the South African didn’t have his best stuff in the FedExCup Playoffs and missed the weekend at Wentworth. However, Grace, a nine-time winner in Europe, will be determined to improve and climb back into the top-50 on the world rankings and a slightly weaker field here presents an excellent chance to add win number 10.
72-HOLE RECORD: Belgian Thomas Pieters set the aggregate record in 2015 when he needed just 261 strokes around Kennemer, while multiple major winner Payne Stewart reached 21-under in 1991.
PAST AUSSIE WINNERS: Stephen Leaney (1998 & 2000), Graham Marsh (1979 & 1985) and Jack Newtown (1972).
AUSTRALIANS IN THE FIELD: Maverick Antcliff, Deyen Lawson, Jake McLeod and Elvis Smylie.
Round 1: Thursday (Fox Sports 503 LIVE 9:30pm – 2:30am)
Round 2: Friday (Fox Sports 503 LIVE 9:30pm – 2am)
Round 3: Saturday (Fox Sports 503 LIVE 9pm – 1:30am)
Round 4: Sunday (Fox Sports 505 LIVE 9pm – 2am)
*AEST, check local guides