Thomas Björn returns to the KLM Open for the first time since 2010 looking to get his competitive juices flowing ahead of The Ryder Cup.
The Dane, who was an automatic qualifier for Paul McGinley’s team, will tee it up alongside European vice captain Padraig Harrington and Finland’s Mikko Ilonen for the first two rounds at Kennemer Golf and Country Club, in Zandvoort.
The tournament is the second in a three event stretch for Björn in the build up to The Ryder Cup, and he is aiming to arrive at Gleneagles in two weeks with his game in top shape.
Defending champion this week is home favourite Joost Luiten, who defeated Miguel Angel Jiménez on the first hole of a play-off 12 months ago. The pair will be reunited for the first two rounds, and will also have the company of Italian Matteo Manassero.
The tournament also marks the 20th and final KLM Open for Dutchman Robert-Jan Derksen, who is to retire at the end of the season, while Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts is trying to build on his tied 13th place in last week’s Omega European Masters, where he finished with a round of 65.
Key player quotes
Thomas Björn: “It is an event that you always really want to come and play in. It has such great tradition and a great place within the tradition of The European Tour, for the amount of years it has been running and the players who have won it. It’s not fitted in my schedule for a few years but this year I felt like I’m in a position where I need to play a bit of tournament golf and get myself ready for a couple of weeks’ time.
“I didn’t play particularly well last week but my game is improving and I’m using these weeks to get my game ready. But at the same time you are playing a golf tournament and you are trying to get yourself in there on Sunday. It’s a process at the moment for me, but I’m glad to be here and I’m looking forward to it. It has been a while, so it is nice to be back.”
Nicolas Colsaerts: “It’s always an event I look forward to because it is the event I have played the most. I played twice when I was a junior amateur in 1998/9. I have the French and the Dutch Open – these are the two that are the closet from home, where people come to see me. This week looks like where I grew up playing, more so than France, so this is more like a home event for me.”
Robert-Jan Derksen: “I’ve played the tournament three times as an amateur, and this will be my 17th time as a pro. It’s special every year but this year it’ll obviously be extra special, as it’s my last appearance. You always want to do well in your home Open, but this time I’ll be trying harder than ever because it’s my last chance.
“It was the one tournament I’ve always wanted to win above all others, but of course there’s always extra pressure and extra focus on you this week, so it’s not easy. That would be the ideal outcome to win on my last tournament, but hopefully I can make it to the weekend and have a good tournament.”