Thomas Pieters defends the KLM Open

The Belgian will face competition from the likes of Joost Luiten and Alex Noren

Thomas Pieters defends the KLM Open
Thomas Pieters defends the KLM Open
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Defending champion Thomas Pieters joins fellow European Ryder Cup team member Chris Wood on the start sheet for the KLM Open at The Dutch in Spijk, Holland.

A strong field has assembled in Spijk in the Dutch province of Gelderland to do battle for the KLM Open. Thomas Pieters defends the KLM Open and will be amongst the favourites for this event, having secured victory two weeks ago in the Made in Denmark. Other star names on the start sheet include Pieters’ fellow 2016 European Ryder Cup team member Chris Wood, European Masters winner Alex Noren and home favourite Joost Luiten.

The Dutch Open was first contested back in 1912 when Englishman George Pannell was victorious. Since then many famous professionals have claimed the title including - J.H Taylor, Bobby Locke, Roberto De Vicenzo, Seve Ballesteros, Bernhard Langer and Colin Montgomerie.

Last year, the young Belgian Thomas Pieters put on a fine display at Kennemer G&CC to win by a shot from Eduardo De La Riva and Lee Slattery. The Englishman missed a short putt on the last to tie.

There’s an interesting addition to the competition this week with amateurs getting involved in rounds one and three. On the par-3 14th hole, each group will be joined by an amateur for the tee shot who will attempt to get inside the professionals to win a prize. A purpose-built grandstand on the hole will add to the excitement.

“This will be an absolute highlight for the players and the fans,” said tournament ambassador Juist Luiten.

There’s a new venue for this tournament – The Dutch is a private members' club that opened for play in 2011. Designed by Colin Montgomerie, it’s a modern design that was laid out with championship golf in mind. It’s a tough track with challenging greens. Those greens are maintained in exceptional condition and should be extremely fast running for this tournament. The Dutch will host this event through to 2018.

The weather forecast for the week looks set fair.

Venue: The Dutch, Spijk, The Netherlands Date: Sep 8-11 Course stats: par 71, 6,981 yards Purse: €1,800,000 Winner: €300,000 Defending Champion: Thomas Pieters (-19)

TV Coverage: Thursday 8 – Sky Sports 4 from 9.30am Friday 9 – Sky Sports 4 from 9.30am Saturday 10 – Sky Sports 4 from 11am Sunday 11 – Sky Sports 4 from 10.30am

Player watch:

Alex Noren – The Swede has been on an excellent run through this summer. He was eighth in the French Open before winning The Scottish Open, he was then runner-up in the Paul Lawrie Match Play and winner of the European Masters. He’s full of confidence right now.

Alex Noren fairway bunker tips:

Pablo Larrazabal – The Spaniard got better and better in Switzerland last week, closing with a 65 to climb into a tie for 7th. This sort of modern championship track should suit him – He’s won at Paris National, in Abu Dhabi and in the BMW International at Munchen Eichenried in the past.

Renato Paratore – The young Italian’s recent results are going in the right direction. He followed a top-30 in the Czech Republic with a top-20 in Denmark and then a top-10 in the European Masters last week. He’s a talented player and surely a future tour winner. This could be the week.

Key holes: The closing three. The 16th is a testing par-3 of 200 yards with water short and left of the putting surface, anything pulled slightly could end up wet. The 17th is then a short, but narrow par-4. It may measure only 400 yards, but water to the right from the tee, together with a well-placed bunker on the left make the drive an intimidating one. There’s more water by the green, like the 16th it’s on the left side. The 18th is a monster par-5 that can be stretched to almost 650 yards – a real three-shotter with water threatening down the right side.

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?