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KLM Open preview

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This week we are in the Netherlands for the KLM Open, where last year we saw local hero Joost Luiten win his third European Tour title, and his second of 2013.

Multiple courses have been used in this event over the years, but in 2013 it was hosted by Kennemer G&CC which has been used five times, each year between 2006-2009 and will host it for the second year in a row this week.

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There has been one multiple winner of this event in the decade and that is Englishman, Simon Dyson. Not only did Dyson win twice here, but he also won at Hilversumsche GC in 2011, so he clearly loves this part of the world.

The Course: Kennemer G&CC is a 6626 yard, par 70 course but even though its not a long track, it certainly has it’s defences. Wind is often a factor, and position off the tee is often important, so Driving Accuracy could be key. Joost Luiten, Miguel Angel Jimenez and Simon Dyson who finished 1st, 2nd and 3rd respectively last year all ranked in the top-15 for Driving Accuracy and also all ranked in the top-20 for Putts per GIR and Putts per Round. Not one of the three ranked any higher than 24th in Greens in Regulation or 36th in Driving Distance so those factors seem secondary.

In the last five years, the aforementioned Simon Dyson has won twice (2009 & 2o11) the other winners are; 2013 – Joost Luiten, Peter Hanson 2012, and Martin Kaymer in 2010. As a whole this is an event where class certainly shines through, but there are also some surprise names in and around the top 5 over the years.

Double digits under par will be required to get the job done here, so a warm putter and good play off the tee (many of which are elevated) is needed.

Last week we saw David Lipsky of America, edge out England’s Graeme Storm at the Omega European Masters, and as we start getting closer to the business end of the season, players will have plenty to play for each week. Cards need to be held on to, as well as those that are making a charge at the Race to Dubai trophy, so there is a lot to look forward to in the next month.

The top-5 in the betting this week are last year’s winner, Joost Luiten (14/1), Brooks Koepka (22/1), Paul Casey and Thomas Bjorn (25/1) and then it’s 28/1 and bigger the rest.

Here are my selections for the 2014 KLM Open.

Simon Dyson 30/1 (BetFred, BetVictor) 1.5pts e/w: So this isn’t the most obscure pick, and it doesn’t take a genius to pick him, but at 30/1 I also don’t see the point in ignoring him. At this course, Dyson has finished 1st, 27th, 12th, 1st and 3rd as well as winning the same event at another course in 2o11 as well.

This event is clearly one he marks favourably on his calendar each year, and expects to compete. He was 3rd last year, and I don’t see any reason to suggest he will struggle this time around either. He has made plenty more cuts than he has missed this season, he finished T7 on his last outing at the Italian Open two weeks ago and that came after two other T5 finishes in his last 8 events.

It makes no sense to leave him out this week, and whilst there is no guarantee he’s going to play well, at 30/1 you’re backing a 6-time European Tour winner who got half of his wins at this event (two at this course) so he should be confident enough to match his odds this week.

I don’t have too much to say about his chances this week, purely because I think his course (and even current) form speaks for itself, and although the price is hardly exciting, it may still look too big come Sunday.

Damien McGrane 100/1 (StanJames) 0.5pt e/w: Whilst not tearing up the Tour, the Irishman has been very steady over the last seven weeks, making seven straight cuts, and posting some encouraging finishes. His 2nd at the Russian Open is the highlight of his year so far, which came two weeks after his T12 finish in France.

Since then he’s not exactly set the world alight, but his T28 finish in Denmark three weeks ago was another positive finish, so he should be confident ahead of his return to a favourite stomping ground of his.

McGrane has twice finished 3rd at this course (2006 & 2013), 4th in 2009 and 20th in 2008 so it’s fair to say like the aforementioned, Simon Dyson, he loves this course. Obviously Dyson has two wins here, whilst McGrane has none and he’s also only won once in his career.

Now if McGrane is to add to his victory at the Volvo China Open in 2008, this looks like one of the more likely places for him to do it, and with some decent form behind him ahead of this week, he should be raring to go here in the Netherlands.

He is not a player I pick often, if ever but at three-figure odds he looks a very good bet this week. We see it time and time again, players performing well at specific courses, and it’s not just coincidental.

The set up here at Kennemer G&CC suits his game, as he ranks 167th in Driving Distance, but a much more appropriate 13th in Driving Accuracy. This is not a long course, and position of the tee is much more important, so he stands in good stead in that department. If he can warm the putter up this week, on a course he clearly enjoys, he should figure over the weekend.

Emiliano Grillo 100/1 (BetVictor & Ladbrokes) 0.5pt e/w: Grillo is slightly less obvious than the previous picks, but after shooting four rounds in the 60’s last week, he looks set to find some of the form he showed earlier in the season, and sporadically throughout the year.

Last week he shot 66-68-69-68 over his four rounds last week in Switzerland, which was good enough for a T25 finish, and I can see him going better than that this week, on a course he finished 11th at on debut last season.

Early in the season we saw Grillo finish 2nd impressively at the Dubai Desert Classic, thanks to a final round 66 and two weeks later he finished T5 at the Africa open, and it looked as though the Argentine was going to enjoy a very good season on Tour.

It took another 6 events before he finished in the top-10 again, this time at the BMW International Open, but he had a couple of decent finishes in between, at the Open De Espana and the China Open, so he enjoyed a good spell, before his somewhat lull in form in July and August.

I am hoping his T25 finish last week, coupled with his good debut here last year will be enough for him to seal another top finish this week, on a course that should very much suit his game. He is very accurate, ranking 23rd in Driving Accuracy and 4th in Greens in Regulation, so another improved week on the greens should see him take advantage of this layout.

He has threatened to win on a couple of occasions already this season, and this is a good time for him to take advantage of the course and the field, before the big guns return for the final series.

At 100/1 he is worth a chance when he’s shown signs recently as last week, and I am sure his maiden win is just around the corner.

These are my three picks for this week’s KLM Open. I may add one more tomorrow, so if I did I will add that to my Twitter @TJacobsGolf. Best of luck this week.