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Friday, 16 November, 2018

Dunne and Detry could be set for Dutch duel

Huizing and Connelly have tools for a charge too

Paul Dunne chats to his caddie at the Paul Lawrie Matchplay last month
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Tournament starts 6.45am Thursday
Live on Sky Sports red button, 10.30am Thursday

Palmer's top tip
Paul Dunne 45-1
One of the highlights of the 2016 European Tour season was Joost Luiten thrilling the Dutch hordes with a final-round 63 to win the KLM Open, then dancing the night away with the greenkeepers. But is the local hero playing well enough for a repeat performance?

Luiten has not won in the 12 months since and is close to slipping out of the top 100 of the world rankings. A solid start at Crans-sur-Sierre last week was undone by a third-round 73, and it has been a case of good golf, rather than great golf, all year. He has posted only one top-ten finish in the 24 tournaments since his latest KLM Open triumph.

Bernd Wiesberger is the highest ranked player in the field (34), but the Austrian delivered a rusty and ugly display in Crans last week, and preference at much bigger odds is for improving Irishman Paul Dunne. The staking plan comprises four European Tour maidens this week, as a low-key event with a humdrum field and an unsettled weather forecast looks ripe for an upset.

Not that victory for Dunne would be a huge surprise. He lost a playoff for the Hassan Trophy in April and has been on the radar ever since leading the Open after three rounds as an amateur at St Andrews in 2015.

That bold effort at the Home of Golf underlines how comfortable Dunne is on links terrain and The Dutch, this week's assignment, is described as an 'inland links'. Dunne's strength is his putting and The Dutch's enormous greens pile pressure on that department. Last year he opened with a 74 there, before recovering brilliantly over the final three rounds (64, 68, 69) to finish 16th.

Excellent August efforts in the Paul Lawrie Match Play, where his run was ended after he called a penalty shot on himself, and the Made In Denmark (tied for 14th place) further encourage interest. His closing 65 for 13th spot in the French Open in July is noteworthy, too, at a venue also given the 'inland links' label.

And the likely weather conditions also bolster Dunne's chance. The Dublin-born 24-year-old is proven in the rough stuff, his 13th place in a brutal Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines last year perhaps the best example of his grit.


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BMW Championship

Evian Championship


Next best
Thomas Detry 66-1
Dunne and Thomas Detry are the same age, and both will expect to be multiple European Tour champions by the time they reach their 30s. A duel at The Dutch between Dunne and Detry is entirely feasible.

Detry, third in the Alfred Dunhill Championship at the start of the season and second in the BMW International at the end of June, can hop across the border from Belgium to Holland with confidence. More recently, he played nicely to tie with Dunne in Denmark.

In his two latest starts, Detry has tied for 54th in the Czech Masters and missed the cut by a shot at Crans, and bookmakers have reacted by dismissing his KLM hopes. But he was on the wrong side of the draw in Prague, suffering in the worst of the weather, and a debut at fiddly, quirky Crans is never straightforward.

Expect Detry to get back among the birdies in a country where he has previous success. He won the 2009 Dutch Junior Open as a 16-year-old, a competition for those under the age of 21, earning a KLM Open debut in the process. A maiden victory in the tournament where he made his European Tour debut would be fitting for a sweet-swinging youngster who appears a potential star.

Other selections
Daan Huizing 150-1
Austin Connelly 150-1
Complete your staking plan with two 150-1 outsiders who possess the tools to tame The Dutch. Daan Huizing proved himself on this course just a month ago, winning a 36-hole qualifier by five shots with a ten-under-par total. Huizing is a 26-year-old Dutchman who won twice on the Challenge Tour in 2013 and appears to be getting his act together again.

Those CT victories came in Northern Ireland and Ukraine, in cool, difficult conditions, and the wet and windy forecast for Holland will not frighten him. Huizing won the St Andrews Links Trophy and the Lytham Trophy by staggering margins of 11 and 14 shots respectively as an amateur, so is a proven links exponent. He looked on the path to greatness at that stage of his career.

Some bright recent form on the CT, including seventh place in the Italian Challenge Open in July and second in the Viking Challenge a month ago, bolster the view that Huizing is a dangerman on home turf this week.

Austin Connelly could also make waves on a short layout which plays to his strengths. The Texan-born 20-year-old relishes a breeze, as highlighted by his fantastic Open debut in July. He finished 14th at Birkdale, showcasing his potential to the world, and is looking to follow in the footsteps of his friend Jordan Spieth. They share the same home town, management company and coach.

Connelly, plying his trade on the Challenge Tour, has done well in his 11 previous European Tour appearances and this looks the most suitable assignment the little grinder has faced.

Others to note
Brandon Stone
The South African youngster has failed to impress on the European Tour for six months, but maybe a return to the track where he shares the course record will revive him.

Adrian Otaegui
The improving Spaniard missed the cut by a shot in Crans last week to end his purple patch, but the Paul Lawrie Match Play champion could easily contend in Holland.

Dylan Frittelli
The South African, another pal of Spieth who has proved himself in the winds of Texas, could threaten his second European Tour title of the year.

Chris Wood
Will another under-performing Ryder Cup Englishman follow the lead of Matt Fitzpatrick by suddenly getting back to winning ways in a low grade? Wood certainly has the ability.

Andy Sullivan
The Midlander, like Wood, is lacking late-summer form, but that did not stop Fitzpatrick in Crans last week. Wood and Sullivan should not be dismissed.

Mikko Ilonen
The Finn is making a habit of a final-round charge for a fat cheque. He fired a 65 for eighth place in the European Open in July, then a 64 for fifth spot at Crans on Sunday.

Staking plan
P Dunne
2pts each-way 45-1 Betfred

T Detry
1.5pts each-way 66-1 Betfred

D Huizing
1pt each-way 150-1 Betfair, Paddy Power

A Connelly
0.5pt each-way 150-1 Coral


Tournament lowdown

Course The Dutch, Spijk, Holland

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

Length 6,983 yards

Par 71

Field 150

Course records – 72 holes 265 Joost Luiten (2016) 18 holes 63 Brandon Stone (2016), Joost Luiten (2016)

Course winner taking part Joost Luiten

When to bet By 6.45am tomorrow

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

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

Last week – European Masters 1 M Fitzpatrick (30-1), 2 S Hend (80-1), T3 T Hatton (40-1), F Zanotti (100-1), 5 M Ilonen (125-1), T6 A Noren (10-1), L Slattery (70-1)

Course overview

The Dutch, designed by Colin Montgomerie, opened in 2011 and hosted its first KLM Open last year.

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 Local hero Joost Luiten was inspired in the final round, carding ten birdies in a 63 to triumph by three shots and send the Dutch crowd into a frenzy

Weather forecast Unsettled, with a thunderstorm threat for round one. Showers and strong winds look set to play a significant role all week

Type of player suited to challenge Players comfortable on a breezy links should thrive this week, with this windswept track feeling like a coastal venue. Strong lag putting is demanded by enormous greens, so touch is essential

Key attribute Touch


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The Dublin-born 24-year-old is proven in the rough stuff
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