Following in the footsteps of his countryman Gonzalo Fernández-Castaño who won the KLM Open in the Netherlands in 2005, Spaniard Sergio Garcia took the prestigious title with a one stroke victory during this year’s event, which ran from 12 to 15 September. The triumph marks Garcia’s 16th European Tour title, ensuring his spot in the DP World Tour Championship. It also pushes him from the 23rd to the 13th place in the Race to Dubai Rankings, ensuring that he will compete for US$3 million at the luxury Jumeirah Golf Estate from November 21 to 24 (one of the top prizes in golf tournaments).
Garcia who found himself slightly behind England’s Callum Shinkwin after several holes in the final round, eventually managed to take a single stroke lead with an 18 under par total. Denmark’s up-and-coming star Nicolai Højgaard briefly emerged as a joint leader with four holes remaining, but eventually came up short to finish second with 17 under. At the end of the day, Englishmen Matt Wallace finished third at 15 under, James Morrison fourth with 14 under and Callum Shinkwin, who started out as a joint leader with Garcia, fifth with 13 under.
“Amazing. We had a great week and [it’s] great to win again. I played well all week under pressure. It wasn’t easy, there were a couple of tough moments today but I hung on tough, that’s the most important thing,” Garcia told europeantour.com. “I want to thank all my sponsors for their support and everything they do for me and the year just got a little bit better.”
The win is bound to improve not just Garcia’s career but also his public images, says sports expert Markus de Jong from adviesjagers.nl. Garcia was disqualified from a tournament in Saudi Arabia earlier this year for damaging the greens. More controversy followed when the golfer was seen throwing his driver at a caddy at the Open Championship later in the year.
The annual KLM Open, which was inaugurated in 1972, has been an important part of Netherland’s golf scene since it was founded in 1912 as the Dutch Open. Over the years, the event underwent numerous name changes when it was taken over by various sponsors. This year marked the 100th edition of the tournament, which has played host to 74 winners from 19 countries.