The 2015 Australian PGA Champion is one of the brightest prospects to leave these shores in recent years but his results over the past 18 months wouldn’t indicate it.
Holman has been mired in what can only be described as a long and painful slump, his last top 10 coming in February 2016 and his last weekend appearance in February this year.
But at last week’s European Masters in Switzerland Holman showed signs of life. He opened with a 1-under 69, his first sub-par score since the Dubai Desert Classic seven months ago.
He backed that up with a second round of 70 to qualify for the weekend, an important milestone for the likeable and talented young Victorian.
A Saturday 75 was not what he would have wanted but he came back on Sunday to fire a 1-over 71 and cash just his second cheque of the year.
Yes, he was last in the field for the 72 holes but the important thing is that he played 72 holes.
The reasons for Holman’s troubles are unknown though early retirement from two tournaments mid-year hint at the possibility of injury.
Certainly his scoring has been a concern, 11 of 16 rounds of 75 or worse prior to last week an unfathomable run for a player of his ability if injury is not the issue.
But at this level of the game it can take as little as one swing for a struggling player to find the magic again.
It’s yet to be seen if that moment came for Holman last week at Crans-sur-Sierre but his play this coming week at the KLM Open in The Netherlands may offer some clues.
Holman is one of 11 Australasians making the journey to The Dutch course for one of the oldest tournaments on the European schedule.
Jack Newton claimed his first Tour title here at the inaugural event in 1972 and Graham Marsh (twice) and Stephen Leaney (also twice) have added their names to the honour roll since.
Sam Brazel, Andrew Dodt, Brett Rumford, Jason Scrivener, Wade Ormsby, Richard Green, Terry Pilkadaris, Todd Sinnott and Jason Norris will be looking to join that company this week as will New Zealand’s Ryan Fox.
Sinnott and Fox seem the pair most likely to perform after both made impressive first appearances last week, Fox especially good with his T9 result.
The 30-year-old Kiwi is in the midst of a standout rookie season on the European Tour and were it not for some clumsy mistakes in Switzerland would likely have been in the mix.
In each of the first three rounds at Crans-sur-Sierre Fox managed to wrack up a double bogey, six shots at this level too much for any player to overcome.
That he made enough birdies to still finish in the top 10 suggests his game is in good shape and he will be one to watch this week.
Sinnott, playing on a sponsor’s invitation this week, also did most of the damage to his scorecard in a small number of holes last week.
A triple and a double bogey in his first nine Sunday saw him plummet down the standings after brilliant opening scores of 65-66 had him third heading to the weekend.
Even after a Saturday 72 he remained inside the top 10 but Sunday proved a different story. Like Fox, the Victorian is a power player and capable of runs of ultra-low scoring though with that style of play sometimes comes big numbers.
That was on full display Sunday in Switzerland where, after making the turn 6-over and dropping two further shots at 12 and 13, he posted consecutive eagles on the back-to-back par-5s at 14 and 15 to salvage something from the wreckage.
He will be less than pleased with his eventual T44 finish, and nor should he be, but the tenacity he displayed on that inward nine speaks volumes for his potential.
Of the rest there is little to suggest any likely contenders, particularly on a course which hosts for just the second time.
The Tour’s newest addition, Jason Norris, will be keen to improve on a missed cut in his first start as a full member last week while Wade Ormsby will be looking to recapture the form which saw him post back to back top 10s prior to missing his last two cuts.
BEN DONEY EXPLAINS THE RULES RELATING TO MOVEABLE OBSTRUCTIONS IN A BUNKER:
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