Friday, 22 August 2008

Simpsons Character Leads the KLM...

Nelson made a seamless transition from wedgies to wedges today

In a strange turn of events, the KLM Open form book has been turned on it's head as The Simpsons resident school bully Nelson Muntz set down his knuckle Duster, picked up a putter and recorded the round of the day, a very impressive 64 from the young trouble maker.

Wait a minute, wrong Muntz...

In a strange turn of events, the KLM Open form book has been turned on it's head as Dutch Pro, ROLF Muntz, recorded the round of the day, a very impressive 64 from the not so young journeyman.

Rolf hasn't won on the European Tour since he captured the 2000 Qatar Masters, that's over eight years ago. But he is obviously liking playing in his home tournament. A professional since 1994, his only other wins coming on the challenge Tour in 94 and 95. He was a fancied prospect in the amateur ranks, winning the Amateur Championship in 1990, the first dutchman to do so, and retained the Dutch Amateur from 1990 -93. He left a career in law to turn pro and indeed his win in Qatar was the first for a Dutchman on the European Tour and the first in a top flight event since Joop Ruhl in 1947 so he can be judged a relative success in his country's terms. Martin Laefeber has since gon on to win and is a past winner of this event in 2003 but it was Rolf who broke the Dutch hoodoo.

Joost Luiten did well here last year and the dutch prospects have generally been strong at their home event, so they will be hoping Rolf can keep it going but surely no one was expecting this from him when the Ryder Cup battle is at it's peak. His starting round was a quality one. A clean scorecard with six birdies on the way round is good enough to see him lead by one from Englishman John Bickerton and Dane Soren Hansen, who could be booking his place if he keeps at the right end of the leaderboard here.

Both shot 5 under today, a double bogey on the par four ninth the only black spot on Hansens card, but he recovered magnificently on the back nine with 4 more birdies to leave himself in great position. He's in good nick at the moment after just missing out on shooting a 59 at a corporate event on Monday. Currently a vulnerable tenth on the Ryder Cup standings he needs points still and this is a fairly good start.
Four birdies on the front nine and one coming home sees Alexander Noren on his own in fourth at four under.

We then have a bunch of seven on 3 under par, including Simon Khan Damien McGrane and Philip Price. Also there though is a man looking to play his way into Valhalla this week, Justin Rose. (That's the Ryder Cup venue I mean, not viking heaven). In good position to make it automatically he will be hoping to cement it this week and perhaps do off to chase another goal acroos the pond. Rose made the admirable decision to come over to Europe and try to confirm him place in the team (he lies eighth in the table now) rather than chase the crazy money of the Fedex Cup.

"Coming back to Europe probably rules me out of winning the Fedex Cup, maybe even rules me out of it altogether, but I couldn't see me sitting in America wishing ill of players here."

It's hard not to like him hearing that. He can spend his time wishing ill of the players in America instead. Justin was 78th in the Fedex standings going into this weeks first playoffs so he does still have a chance of going back to america next week and staying involved in the big money but will have to have a great result or he will get cut out of the final events.

One shot further back is another man striving to make the Ryder Cup, Darren Clarke on -2. He knows now barring miracles his only chance is one of Nick Faldo's wild cards and is determined to show some form.

"I am desperate to make it, but if I do not play well these two weeks I would have no complaints if I did not get picked."

Two under is a decent score which keeps him well in the hunt. Five birdies were tempered by consecutive dropped shots on 7 & 8, closing holes in Clarkes round and another on 18 but his pair of bogeys came in a bad spell of weather which cost him a potentially great start of four under.

"I'd much prefer to be four under, but it got pretty tricky and we were unlucky to be on two of the most difficult holes at the time"

Clarke's tee to green play is in superb shape, his putting leting him down, if he can knock a few in this week it may be enough to convince Faldo that it's worth the chance to re-unite him with his partner in crime Lee Westwood.

Nick Dougherty meanwhile is unhappy with himself as he now lies 3 over, particularly after such strong form last week at the SAS. It leaves him with a lot to do to get back into contention.

A lost ball on the first was costly and managing to come up short after two shots on his last hole, the 418 yard ninth, he then over cooked his pitch, sailing through the green and failing to get up and down, took six and was not a happy bunny on his way to the scoring tent. He will want to get something out of this week as there is only the Johnnie Walker left before the team is decided. Having hauled himself up to 14th last week, a poor performance here may be too much to recover from.

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