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Monday, 17 December, 2018

Accurate Erik van Rooyen has the skills to master Dutch test

South African should relish links-style course

Erik van Rooyen is sixth on the European Tour's GIR rankings
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Tournament starts 6.45am Thursday
Live on Sky Sports Golf red button, 10.30am

It is little more than two weeks until Lee Westwood will be at the heart of the Ryder Cup action, driving a buggy and using a walkie-talkie as one of Europe's non-playing vice captains.

But there is life in the two-time European Tour order of merit winner and the Worksop wonder has been putting in some excellent performances lately.

He was a creditable 12th at last week's European Masters seven days after losing in a playoff at the Made in Denmark and those performances make him favourite for this week's KLM Open, a tournament he won way back in 1999.

Westwood's strong greens-in-regulation statistics should help him challenge at The Dutch this week, but there are plenty of others who appeal in what looks another open European contest.


Wilkerson's top tip
Erik van Rooyen 35-1
Six of the top eight players in last year's field were also in the top ten for GIR - Bernd Wiesberger topped that statistic and was tied for ninth - and with 2016 winner Joost Luiten second in GIR that year, it seems likely that key stat will have a role to play this week too.

That should be good news for tournament debutant Erik van Rooyen, who will also be encouraged by talk that the Spijk track has strong similarities to a links layout despite being inland.

Van Rooyen stormed to the head of the leaderboard at The Open at Carnoustie in July - he finished 17th - and as he stands sixth in GIR, he can make a bold challenge for his first European Tour title.

He has hit 74.3 per cent of greens in regulation in 56 European Tour rounds this season and it is only a couple of weeks ago that a storming final round of 65 was not quite enough to force his way into a playoff.

The South African had a couple of decent rounds of 66 and 67 at last week's European Masters and he has the required skills to force his way into the picture in Holland.

Eddie Pepperell won February's Qatar Masters

Next best
Eddie Pepperell 20-1
Second favourite Eddie Pepperell is ranked 143rd in GIR, but the Oxfordshire swinger is at the top of his game and is worthy of consideration in this week's field.

The Dutch holds decent memories as he was third there last year, two shots behind winner Romain Wattel and he was eighth in GIR on that occasion so he can perform in that regard.

A poor 74 in the third round left him out of contention on his last outing at the Made in Denmark, but he was ninth at the Czech Masters the week before and should be rested after swerving last week's tournament in Switzerland.

The Qatar Masters champion was sixth at The Open and second at the Scottish Open so talk of a links-style layout should be music to his ears.

Other selections
Max Kieffer 60-1
Fabrizio Zanotti 45-1
David Horsey 80-1
Max Kieffer has finishes of 25-34 on this week's course and has the potential to get better.

The German stands 46th in this season's GIR rankings, but was third in that table in last year's tournament and 16th the year before when he was the most accurate driver in the field.

He was third at the Nordea Masters in August and 35th last week despite leading after the first round at Crans Montana after a blistering Thursday 64.

Kieffer is capable of making a bold bid, as is Fabrizio Zanotti, who has made the cut in eight of his ten attempts at various courses in this tournament.

The Paraguayan was 16th at The Dutch two years - 11th in GIR and second in driving accuracy - and finished strongly with a 66 in the final round of the European Masters.

An outsider worthy of consideration is England's David Horsey, who has made the cut in seven of his last eight events.

His 23rd at the European Masters was his best finish since that run began with seventh at the low-grade Shot Clock Masters and he was fourth in this tournament two years ago.

Others to note
Lee Westwood
Westwood's accuracy makes him a threat in a field such as this and he should be confident of a strong finish after claiming third place last year.

Romain Wattel
The Frenchman took the honours in this last year, but he has claimed just three top-20 finishes this season.

Chris Wood
The Bristolian is usually expected to challenge on links-style layouts, but he has had just one top-ten finish in his last 14 outings. He was ninth last year, though.

Staking plan
E van Rooyen
2pts each-way 35-1 bet365
E Pepperell
2pts each-way 20-1 188Bet
M Kieffer
1pt each-way 60-1 Betfred
F Zanotti
1pt each-way 45-1 Betfred
D Horsey
0.5pt each-way 80-1 bet365, 188Bet

The lowdown

Course The Dutch, Spijk, Holland

Prize money €1.8m (€300,000 to the winner)

Length 6,983 yards Par 71 Field 156

Course records – 72 holes 265 Joost Luiten (2016)

18 holes 63 Brandon Stone (2016), Joost Luiten (2016)

Course winner taking part Romain Wattel

When to bet By 6.45am Thursday

Where to watch Live on Sky Sports Golf from 10.30am (red button)

Time difference Holland is one hour ahead of the UK and Ireland

Last week – European Masters 1 M Fitzpatrick 12-1, 2 L Bjerregaard 30-1, 3 M Lorenzo-Vera 50-1, 4 N Elvira 66-1, 5 D Brooks 600-1, T6 H Tanihara 125-1, T6 A Wu 200-1

Course overview The Dutch, designed by Colin Montgomerie, opened in 2011 and this is the third year it has hosted this tournament, which tees up for the 99th time.

It is an inland course, but has a strong links feel to it, with man-made mounds guarding the side of most holes and the exposed layout often windswept. There are water hazards in play on 12 holes.

Flat, reasonably generous fairways are followed by large, undulating greens, many of which are elevated and surrounded by run-off areas. There is one par-five on the front nine (the sixth) and three on the back (the 13th, 15th and 18th). The 13th (611 yards) and 18th (640 yards) do not offer straightforward birdie opportunities. The longest of the five par-threes is the 200-yard 16th. The 14th is only 133 yards. The relatively short par-threes and fours make for a low-scoring track unless the weather intervenes.

Story of last year Romain Wattel began the final day one shot behind Kiradech Aphibarnrat but took the leadafter birdies on three of the first six holes and held on to it. The Frenchman claimed his first European Tour success one shot ahead of Canada's Austin Connelly.

Weather forecast Rain is expected on Wednesday morning but the tournament should remain dry for all four days. Temperatures are expected to be in the low-20Cs but winds could pick up during the closing stages on Sunday.

Type of player suited to challenge The wind could prove an issue so the ability to handle them will be key to success. Solid lag putting would also be of benefit but those who have done well in the last two years have tended to hit a lot of greens in regulation, so accurate iron play is primarily desired.

Key attribute Accuracy

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Van Rooyen has hit 74.3 per cent of greens in regulation in 56 European Tour rounds this season
E.W. Terms
Sky bet