Romain Wattel wins KLM Open at The Dutch

The Frenchman finished one clear of Canada's Austin Connelly

Romain Wattel wins KLM Open
Romain Wattel wins KLM Open
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Romain Wattel clinched a surprise victory in the KLM Open at The Dutch in Holland. The Frenchman finished one clear of Canada’s Austin Connelly.

Romain Wattel began the final round of the KLM Open one shot behind Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat but the French player made three birdies in his first six holes to pass him.

The Thai golfer struck back on the back nine when he birdied the 14th to move ahead once more. But Aphibarnrat found water on the next and made double bogey and then did the same on the 18th hole to fall back into a tie for ninth place.

20-year-old Austin Connelly applied the pressure with a final round of 66. He posted a four-round total of 14-unde-par. Wattell looked to have the title sewn up though when he stood on the tee of the par-5 18th on 15-under. But he made life difficult for himself by missing the green on the home hole with his approach. He kept his cool and made an excellent up-and-down to close with a 69 and win by one from Connelly.

A group of six players shared third spot – Eddie Pepperell and Lee Westwood of England, South African George Coetzee, Sebastian Heisele of Germany and another Frenchman – Joel Stalter.

Lee Westwood swing sequence:

3 Talking points from the KLM Open

1 – This was an unexpected win for Romain Wattel who had been enduring a poor season on the European Tour. Although the Frenchman has had 25 previous top-10 finishes on the circuit, his best result on the 2017 European Tour going into this event was a tie for 24th spot. This was his first European Tour victory. “I came to this tournament, I was playing poorly to be honest,” he said. “Last week I struggled with my game… I am happy with the way I played all week. It’s been a very nice weekend… I’ve been putting really bad the last two years – I think I’m a really good putter but the last two years were tough for me. I never thought about the score, I just tried to play my best. I was just trying to be as high as I could on the leaderboard but it was very tight. I just tried to play my own game. I have been in contention before and while I had not won before I knew what I had to do; I knew what I had to expect and thankfully this time it was my week. It feels amazing to win for the first time – I am so happy right now.”

2 – Austin Connelly who finished 14th in The Open Championship has been trying to earn enough money to gain his European Tour card and this second place will go a long way to securing it. “This is a huge result for me. I only had one more event that I was guaranteed to play to try and win my European Tour card but it looks like I might have done it this week," he said. "This is my first time being in this position as I am not long in the professional game – I feel very blessed to have finished the way I did.”

3 – Lee Westwood enjoyed a solid week and looks to be returning to form as the European Tour season draws to a close with the British Masters, a tournament he is hosting, just a couple of weeks away. "To be honest this is the best I have played for a couple of years in terms of ball-striking and control so I am delighted with what is my best result of the year,” he said. “There are a lot of positives to take from that and now I can really look forward to playing in and hosting the British Masters.”

KLM Open The Dutch, Spijk, The Netherlands Sep 14-17 Purse: €1,800,000 Par: 71

1       Romain Wattel (Fra)      69     67     64     69     269   €300,000 2       Austin Connelly (Can)    71     67     66     66     270   €200,000 T3     George Coetzee (RSA)   69     67     68     67     271   €73,500 T3     Sebastian Heisele (Ger) 66     68     68     69     271   €73,500 T3     Eddie Pepperell (Eng)     69     68     69     65     271   €73,500 T3     Joel Stalter (Fra)           65     67     69     70     271   €73,500 T3     Justin Walters (RSA)      72     67     65     67     271   €73,500 T3     Lee Westwood (Eng)     70     65     67     69     271   €73,500 T9     Kiradech Aphibarnrat (Tha) 68 65    66     73     272   €33,876 T9     Joakim Lagergren (Swe) 67    65     70     70     272   €33,876 T9     Matt Wallace (Eng)        68     68     69     67     272   €33,876 T9     Bernd Wiesberger (Aut) 66     69     71     66     272   €33,876 T9     Chris Wood (Eng)          70     69     68     65     272   €33,876 

Note: Player score in bold signifies Titleist ball usage

Fergus Bisset
Contributing Editor

Fergus is Golf Monthly's resident expert on the history of the game and has written extensively on that subject. He is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and his passion for the sport was bolstered during his time at St Andrews university studying history. He went on to earn a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. Fergus has worked for Golf Monthly since 2004 and has written two books on the game; "Great Golf Debates" together with Jezz Ellwood of Golf Monthly and the history section of "The Ultimate Golf Book" together with Neil Tappin , also of Golf Monthly. 

Fergus once shanked a ball from just over Granny Clark's Wynd on the 18th of the Old Course that struck the St Andrews Golf Club and rebounded into the Valley of Sin, from where he saved par. Who says there's no golfing god?