Adrian Meronk birdied two of his final three holes on Sunday to hold off Romain Langasque by one stroke and Julian Guerrier by two to win the Italian Open. Meronk, a winner for this column at 20-1, put himself in great position to be part of Team Europe for the Ryder Cup later this fall with a victory at Marco Simone, which will also host the Ryder Cup.
Meronk’s victory lifted him to fifth on the European Points List and within 100 points of an automatic qualifying place for Luke Donald’s team as he bids to become the first Polish player to be featured in the Ryder Cup.
Yannik Paul, runner-up here in Belgium last year, was set to be my headline selection for this event, but he withdrew early Tuesday after gaining entry to next week's PGA Championship.
Alexander Bjork, fourth last week in Italy, takes the position of favorite here at 16-1. Adrian Otaegui is slotted at 18-1 along with Thomas Detry, who returns home to Belgium from playing predominantly on the PGA Tour, still seeking his first victory on a major tour.
Jorge Campillo (20-1) has three consecutive top-10 finishes in three consecutive weeks on the DP World Tour while Thorbjorn Olesen, also at 20-1, aims for his second victory of 2023.
The Soudal Open began as the Belgian Open all the way back in 1910. The Belgian Open was played intermittently from 1910 to 2000. The event disappeared from the DP World Tour schedule for 17 years before being brought back in 2018 under a different format called the Belgian Knockout. That format was a two-day stroke-play event in which 64 players made the cut and then proceeded to play nine-hole matches over six rounds to determine a champion. This change lasted two years (2018 and 2019) before the event disappeared from the schedule again for two years.
Now the tournament is back in a traditional stroke-play format as the Soudal Open. Soudal is a Belgian company headquartered in Turnhout that makes silicone, caulks, polyurethane foams and adhesives.
Rinkven International Golf Club, located in Antwerp, is the host course just as it was for the Belgian Knockout in 2018 and 2019. The Course at Rinkven is a parklands layout originally designed by Paul Rolin in 1985 and subsequently updated by Martin Hawtree. Some holes are tree-lined while others are exposed. Nevertheless, it is generally a flat, scoreable track.
The layout played for the Belgian Knockout was a composite of the North and South courses and measured 6,940 yards played as a par-71 (two par-5s, three par-3s and 13 par-4s).
The front nine is slightly longer than the back nine with just one par-5 on both sides. The par-4 16th is a drivable hole with eagle opportunities.
The greens are Poa Annua-based but overseeded with Bentgrass each year to achieve the desired playing surface of 80% Bentgrass, 20% Poa.
2022: Sam Horsfield (-13/271); 22-1
Jorge Campillo (20-1, Superbook Sports)
Campillo’s eighth-place finish at Marco Simone was his fifth consecutive finish of ninth or better, following a third in Korea, ninth in Japan, first in Kenya and fourth in India. Campillo ranks first for Strokes Gained: Total over those starts.
He led the 2018 Belgian Knockout here at the halfway point before finishing fifth.
Campillo was a winner earlier this year in the Magical Kenya Open at Muthaiga, which has a good correlation to Rinkven.
Callum Shinkwin (30-1, SuperBook Sports)
Shinkwin is making his third start since missing 11 weeks after withdrawing from the Ras Al Khaimah Championship with an injury despite being on the first page of the weekend leaderboard.
Before that W-D, Shinkwin finished fourth in the Dubai Desert Classic and was T-9 last week at the Italian Open.
Julien Brun (66-1, PointsBet)
Brun finished way down (72nd) at last week's Italian Open returning with obvious rust from a six-week layoff.
However, he was six top-25s in his last eight starts, including a T-7 at correlated Muthiaga.
Daniel van Tonder (66-1, BetMGM)
The South African finished T-5 last week in Italy.
He also has a victory at Karen Country Club as does Guido Migliozzi, who won the Belgian Knockout on this course in 2019.
Ashun Wu (70-1, Caesars Sportsbook)
Wu has a win at Muthiaga in the 2022 Magical Kenya Open.
He was just 32nd last week in Italy but was 12th in the field for Approach.
Santiago Tarrio (70-1, BetRivers)
Tarrio was third at the correlated Muthiaga earlier this year.