Bernd Wiesberger owns a one-shot lead in a bunched leaderboard at the European Tour’s KLM Open
Bernd Wiesberger will head to the weekend with the lead at the KLM Open, but don’t expect him to have too much support from the gallery.
That’s not a knock against Wiesberger (66-66), who appears to have a sterling reputation on tour, it’s just that he will be in the final group with native son Joost Luiten who sits one back and has his sights set on winning for the second time on Dutch soil.
Luiten (67-64) electrified the crowds on Friday by recording a bogey-free 64, the low round of the week. The KLM Open is at The Dutch in Spijk, Netherlands for the first time, but the Dutchman has won this event in 2013 and took second in 2007. Also at nine-under-par, Englishman Mark Foster (67-66) joins Wiesberger and Luiten in the final group. Italian Nino Bertasio (66-67) is also at the nine-under mark and will tee off in the penultimate threesome.
Three more golfers sit at eight-under and five more at seven-under in what is a bunched leaderboard thus far.
They’ll all be chasing a golfer in Wiesberger who has missed just five cuts worldwide in 2016, but has yet to finish better than tied for seventh (at the BMW International Open), either.
If Wiesberger can handle the crowd’s fervor for Luiten, the stage shouldn’t be too big for the world No. 63 who has three career wins on tour.
The 30-year-old should also have momentum from the resiliency he showed on Friday. Two bogeys in Wiesberger’s three holes appeared to unravel the good work from his first-round 66, but he stormed back to throw seven birdies on the board to post another 66.
Despite this event being held opposite of the PGA Tour’s BMW Championship, several top-50 players are in Spijk this weekend, a few of which have made the weekend.
World No. 27 Alex Noren has been on fire as of late, winning last week’s Omega European Masters, as well as the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open in July. A strong showing on moving day could get the Swede in contention for another victory. He sits six back in a tie for 27th at four-under (69-69). Along with Russell Knox, Noren is a guy European Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke might be wishing he had on the roster.
World No. 39 Byeong Hun-An (66-72) is also tied for 27th and No. 30 Chris Wood (72-68), the highest-ranked in the field, is tied for 44th at two-under.
Missing the cut are a couple pre-tournament favorites in No. 45 Thongchai Jaidee (72-71) and two-time KLM Open champion, Simon Dyson (76-72). World No. 41 Thomas Pieters was another popular player coming into the week, but the Belgian was forced to withdraw on Thursday due to a reaction from a bee sting. Pieters is expected to be fine for the Ryder Cup at month’s end, if not sooner, but he wasn’t safe from the playful ire of Justin Rose.
Aside from the main competition, this week serves as an opportunity for the European Tour to try out a new fan-friendly sideshow, Beat the Pro. On Thursday and Saturday on the par-3 14th hole, a fan is selected to hit a tee shot in attempt to win a prize if he or she can finish closest to the hole versus the three professionals alongside them.
Little was reported by the tour in terms of professionals’ reaction to this maiden concept, but it produced some pretty cool moments. For example, a 13-year-old cooly stuck it to about 30-40 feet, finishing inside of seasoned vets Y.E. Yang, Stephen Gallacher and Nicolas Colsaerts.
Will Luiten win in his home country again? Can Wiesberger hang on for his fourth tour victory? Let us know in the comment section and stick with Pro Golf Now for more European Tour updates.