Romain Wattel clinched a surprise victory in the KLM Open at The Dutch in Holland. The Frenchman finished one clear of Canada’s Austin Connelly.
Romain Wattel began the final round of the KLM Open one shot behind Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat but the French player made three birdies in his first six holes to pass him.
The Thai golfer struck back on the back nine when he birdied the 14th to move ahead once more. But Aphibarnrat found water on the next and made double bogey and then did the same on the 18th hole to fall back into a tie for ninth place.
20-year-old Austin Connelly applied the pressure with a final round of 66. He posted a four-round total of 14-unde-par. Wattell looked to have the title sewn up though when he stood on the tee of the par-5 18th on 15-under. But he made life difficult for himself by missing the green on the home hole with his approach. He kept his cool and made an excellent up-and-down to close with a 69 and win by one from Connelly.
Lee Westwood swing sequence:
3 Talking points from the KLM Open
1 – This was an unexpected win for Romain Wattel who had been enduring a poor season on the European Tour. Although the Frenchman has had 25 previous top-10 finishes on the circuit, his best result on the 2017 European Tour going into this event was a tie for 24th spot. This was his first European Tour victory.
“I came to this tournament, I was playing poorly to be honest,” he said. “Last week I struggled with my game… I am happy with the way I played all week. It’s been a very nice weekend… I’ve been putting really bad the last two years – I think I’m a really good putter but the last two years were tough for me. I never thought about the score, I just tried to play my best. I was just trying to be as high as I could on the leaderboard but it was very tight. I just tried to play my own game. I have been in contention before and while I had not won before I knew what I had to do; I knew what I had to expect and thankfully this time it was my week. It feels amazing to win for the first time – I am so happy right now.”
2 – Austin Connelly who finished 14th in The Open Championship has been trying to earn enough money to gain his European Tour card and this second place will go a long way to securing it.
“This is a huge result for me. I only had one more event that I was guaranteed to play to try and win my European Tour card but it looks like I might have done it this week,” he said. “This is my first time being in this position as I am not long in the professional game – I feel very blessed to have finished the way I did.”
3 – Lee Westwood enjoyed a solid week and looks to be returning to form as the European Tour season draws to a close with the British Masters, a tournament he is hosting, just a couple of weeks away.
“To be honest this is the best I have played for a couple of years in terms of ball-striking and control so I am delighted with what is my best result of the year,” he said. “There are a lot of positives to take from that and now I can really look forward to playing in and hosting the British Masters.”
The Dutch, Spijk, The Netherlands
Purse: €1,800,000 Par: 71
1 Romain Wattel (Fra) 69 67 64 69 269 €300,000
2 Austin Connelly (Can) 71 67 66 66 270 €200,000
T3 George Coetzee (RSA) 69 67 68 67 271 €73,500
T3 Sebastian Heisele (Ger) 66 68 68 69 271 €73,500
T3 Eddie Pepperell (Eng) 69 68 69 65 271 €73,500
T3 Joel Stalter (Fra) 65 67 69 70 271 €73,500
T3 Justin Walters (RSA) 72 67 65 67 271 €73,500
T3 Lee Westwood (Eng) 70 65 67 69 271 €73,500
T9 Kiradech Aphibarnrat (Tha) 68 65 66 73 272 €33,876
T9 Joakim Lagergren (Swe) 67 65 70 70 272 €33,876
T9 Matt Wallace (Eng) 68 68 69 67 272 €33,876
T9 Bernd Wiesberger (Aut) 66 69 71 66 272 €33,876
T9 Chris Wood (Eng) 70 69 68 65 272 €33,876
Note: Player score in bold signifies Titleist ball usage