Place of residence:
January 3, 1974
Blaricum, the Netherlands
internet, painting, cars, reading
October 24, 1996
Below you can read my biography. My first activity in the sport of golf is written at
start. After that I tell you something about my
education. Then I'll discuss my period as
amateur as well as my period as a professional.
The period as professional is split in several years. In 1997 I started my career as professional.
Robert-Jan was already 14 years old when he held a golf club for the first time. Six years later he played his first European Tour
as an amateur golfer (playing together with Olazabal, Els, Langer, Nobilo, Ballesteros) and again 4 years later he obtained the desirable
European Tour card.
He comes from a family where sports are considered to be of high importance. As a consequence he was only three years old when he was playing tennis against a wall and when he discovered golf during a holiday in the USA at fourteen, he was a creditable tennisplayer (b-player). But from that moment on he quit tennis and completely threw himself into golf.
After his HAVO-examination Robert-Jan decided to attend the University of Athens, Georgia, USA. Here he had to find the
perfect mix between studying and golf.
Unfortunately this situation did not meet his expectations and one year later he decided to continue his studies at the business school in Maastricht, the Netherlands.
During the next two and a half years, studying had first priority and playing golf became a weekend activity. After finishing business school, Robert-Jan played golf as an amateur in order to gain the badly needed international experience.
|The amateur period|
Four years later his handicap was scratch and Robert-Jan was quickly admitted in several national selections, for junior players and
later on also for men, where he played until the moment he turned professional end of 1996. His most remarkable achievements in his
amateur period were several national titles in the junior tournaments as well as in the amateur tournaments, such as second place in
the Luxembourg amateurs (1994), second place in the Italian amateurs (1995), eighth place in the World Championships for national teams
(1994), fifth place in the Individual European Championships (1996). In 1996 Robert-Jan was also preparing for the World Championship
for amateurs in the Philippines.
But at the same time he had ambitions closer to home. In the summer of 1996 he signed up for the qualifications of the European Tour. In September Robert-Jan played his first Pre-Qualification in Manchester as an amateur. A total score of -2 was not sufficient. He got a second chance in Vinarós, in the north of Spain, on the course that was designed by his idol Bernhard Langer. Already in his second true professional tournament Robert-Jan showed to be very promising. Three rounds of 70 in a row were enough to be admitted to the final qualification (the Qualifying School) in San Roque and Sotogrande in Spain.
This final qualification also meant the end of his career as an amateur and, to the regret of the Dutch amateur team, his absence in the World Championships. His first endeavours in the Qualifying School, where 180 players were competing to get the 35 starting cards for the European Tour, was not successful, but made him gain a lot of experience.
After a successful adventure in Asia where Robert-Jan obtained his Asian Tour card and where he played a very rewarding match in the
spring of 1997, he gained the necessary experience to earn his living as a professional golfer.
Backed by his father, who had become his manager, Robert-Jan even played the Kirin Open in April, a tournament where only the top 30 players of the Asian Tour could compete. Upon his return to Europe, thanks to a second place in the Danish Open and a ninth place in the Czech Open, Robert-Jan qualified amongst the top 40 of the Challenge Tour, the circuit just below the PGA European Tour. His second attempt at the Qualifying School, which he earned through this qualification, was very successful. With a score of -8 he had to share the first place and his career as The Laughing Dutchman on the European Tour was a fact.
In 1998 Robert-Jan played 14 tournaments on the European Tour. A thirtieth place in the Dutch Open and a twentieth place in the Belgian
Open were his major achievements.
On the Challenge Tour he became second in the Open Des Volcans. A 116th place in the Order of Merit meant however he had to go back to the south of Spain and take part in the Qualifying School for the third time. His mental strength and flexibility helped him to obtain a well deserved fourth place and for the second year in a row a chance to play the European Tour.
The excited reaction of the complete staff of the European Tour about Robert-Jan's starting card for 1999, proved that his personality was slowly but surely gaining an impact on the Tour. The ever smiling, polite and extremely sporty Robert-Jan is very well-liked by his colleagues, organisations and golf lovers all over Europe.
This year started very successful with a top 20 position in the Heineken Classic in Australia, Robert-Jan's most favourite tournament of
the Tour. After a few mediocre months in Germany, he returned to form. For the first time his name was seen on the top of the
leaderboards. After three rounds he was in the top 5. Unfortunately the last round was less successful and resulted in a 36th place.
The disappointment was big.
But at the end of the season he managed to qualify for the Qualifying School. For the fourth time he had to visit this pressure cooker Qualifying School in San Roque and this time it ended in the worst experience of this career until then. A very fine tournament went up into smoke because in the last round 17 greens in regulation with more than 36 putts seemed insufficient. In fact this was a perfect wrap-up of Robert-Jan's problem area : the greens.
He turned his disappointment into hard work. He made himself a heavy trainingschedule, thanks to his simple views on technique and because he knew what was needed to succeed in the Tour. A few visits to Harold Swash, the putgoeroe from England, produced the desired result. Concentrating on his swing with pro Tom O'Mahoney, who assisted him since he was 16, laid the foundation for a successful season.
Without a Tour card, but with the possibility to play all tournaments in the Challenge Tour, Robert-Jan was excellent until July 2000.
After a fine first round in the qualifying tournament for the British Open however fate struck him hard. The next morning Robert-Jan suffered from an unbearable pain in his neck. This would mean the start of a half year full of physical problems.
Purely based on his strong character however he managed to enter the Qualifying School, but after a nice 68 in the first round the pain in his neck came back. Without a Tour card, but very aware of what he had to do, he returned home. Extensive medical examinations showed that his neck suffered no damage. He followed a sophisticated fitness programme in the medical sports center of Papendal, which had to strengthen the muscles in his neck and make the injury fade away.
2001 will be the year of the truth. Playing fulltime in the Challenge Tour should enable Robert-Jan to get back in the Tour, provided he gets in the top 15 (which would qualify him directly for the European Tour).
That Robert-Jan performs well under pressure has been proven many times, but never as in the 2001 season. He played with only one goal :
top 15 of the Challenge Tour, to gain playing privileges for the PGA European Tour 2002.
Robert-Jan succeeded wonderfully well. An average of 70 (-2), great putting, a good physical condition and hardly any missed cuts made the 2000 season fade away fast. Three times a top 10 ranking, of which a second place (-21) in the highly ranked Challenge Tournament of Hamburg and a total of eleven top 15 places indicate that 2001 was a very regular season.
After a long season of hard work and very good playing, the result was a 7th place in the constantly broadening Challenge Tour.
With his best ranking ever and countless possibilities to play tournaments, 2002 however did not deliver what he expected. Although he
made over half of all cuts", Robert-Jan did not finish in the top 115 of the Order of Merit. That he really deserved to be part of the Tour
Robert-Jan proved in his sixth performance in the Qualifying School of Emporda and Pals by winning in a remarkable way a Tour card (25th out
of 770 contestants). 2002 was a successful year, not only thanks to the positive ending. In 2002 valuable experience was gathered for example
by leading a tournament (the British Masters in June) and by competing with top players like Harrington, Woosnam, Lyle and Van de Velde.
Maybe the most important development in 2002 was the completion" of the Derksen Team". The famous Welsh coach Scott Cranfield was added on site. With his help Robert-Jan hopes to achieve a better follow-up of his performances on Thursday and Friday. The feeling that something" happens that ruins the weekend, came round several times in 2002. The fact that Cranfield himself approached Derksen, proves the belief reigning in the circuit in the player Robert-Jan Derksen.
The most beautiful things in life happen unexpected. After a very difficult start of the 2003 season, due to lack of playing opportunities,
first reserve in South Africa and Singapore, withdrew Tiger Woods from the Dubai Desert Classic which made him last men in.
After 71 holes Derksen was on top of the leaderboard and you could feel the excitement. Els didn't know what was going on, in his last six starts he had won four of the tournaments and was virtually the number one player in the world. An magnificient wedge shot on 18, where Robert used all his experience gathered during the Qualifying Schools to withstand the pressure, delivered the birdie. Moments later Els could only manage a par on the last hole which gave Robert his maiden win on the European Tour. Not just a champion, but a Dubai Desert Classic winner side by side with names like Els, Bjorn, Couples, and Montgomerie. Years of hard work finally paid of on that final day in March.
The remainder of the season changed completely, an exemption till 2005 and confirmed entries in both the NEC World Invitational and the British Open, Robert's first major. In the following months Robert proved to be a winner by making 15 of the 24 cuts and a few days after his win a sixth place in the Madeira Open.
The year could have ended even better if Robert had retained his top 10 positon after 63 holes in the final tournament of the year, the Volvo Masters. But on the other hand, we always like to have the desire to improve next time.
Actually the first year Robert was garanteed to play all major European Tour events. Settled as steady player on Tour, Robert wanted more
than that. Staying at the same level for a period of time is actually going backwards.
Having made 21 cuts of the 26 tournaments he played, Robert gave himself lot of chances in the weekend to do really well. Unfortunately the top finishes didn't follow as much as he would have liked. Robert explained it as follows. Of course very dissapointing that you are not able to get in the top 60 of the order of merit with so many cuts made, otherwise it is a great achievement to play so consistent throughout the year with so many cuts made.
Highlight of the 2004 season was a share of fifth place in the World Cup together with Maarten Lafeber. They finished in ahead of countries like America, Sweden and Australia. Therefor it is not a surprise that this is the best finish ever achieved by Holland in the history of the World Cup.
By fine-tuning his swing with help from his coaches Tom and Scott, Robert is trying to get more stable, eventually he will hit more greens and has therefor more chanches for birdie. With this in mind Robert will play more agressively. Adding Alan Fine (one of the most recognized mental coaches in the game of golf) to his team, has helped him a lot to become a more balanced person on the golfcourse.
His main goal for the 2005 season is to win again. May be Robert should be a little more carefull in his targets and be satisfied to retain his playing priviliges at the end of the year, but he wants more. To win and getting the two year exemption will open doors to have a look on the other site of the ocean, Amerika.
Winning was the only thing on his mind. And a second victory came sooner than expected. In the first six tournaments Robert made the weekend,
but finished in the back of the field. The two top 20 finishes in Hong Kong and Malaysia (two of his favourite tournaments) were a sign of the
steady improvement he made as a Tour player who seldom misses a cut. At the island of Madeira, at the Santo da Serra golf club, where Robert
always feels at home, he had three solid days and a great last day. Finishing of with a brilliant 15 foot birdie putt, he secured his second
European Tour win of his career.
With this great start of the season, his next mission was to get in the top 60 to qualify for the Volvo Masters at Valderrama. Two weeks before the deadline for the Volvo Masters, Robert was just outside the top 60. He finished tied 12th in Madrid and tied 11th in Mallorca to sneak into the top 60. In the Volvo Masters itself he finished 38th, so that his final position on the European Order of Merit 2005 was number 57.
'Winning breeds winning' is a common American term and that is exactly how Robert-Jan felt after his second victory in Madeira. The feeling of
being a winner is addictive. With high expectations Robert-Jan started 2006 with a top 20-finish in a world-class field at the HSBC Championship
in Shanghai. After a first round of 65 Robert-Jan was in the top 5 of this great event. Unfortunately Robert-Jan was not able to follow-up this
good start to the season during the rest of the year. Out of necessity due to some personal circumstances, golf was sometimes not his first
priority. On the European Tour where the competition gets stronger by the day you cannot afford this. A top 12 position in the Irish Open and a
top 8 finish in Germany at the BMW International (when it began to look as if Robert might not make the top 115 in the Order of Merit), were positive
exceptions in a generally unsatisfactory year. His good form came back when he finished in the top 10 of the Mallorca Classic.
Even more important than the cheque he won in Mallorca, was
the realisation that when you don't feel like practicing after a round, you just shouldn't. After a first round of 76, Robert-Jan felt down and frustrated.
He decided not to practice on the range after his round, but just make some puts and then went back to the hotel to get some rest. The next day he made 69,
followed by a 67 and 70. A new 'after competition' routine was born (listen to your body!). The top 10 finish in Mallorca at the end of the season took
Robert-Jan to an 86th place on the European Tour Order of Merit.
In golf you cannot afford to take it easy. Not when everyone else is striving to improve. Robert-Jan came to the realisation that he needed to work harder than he already did. Good conversations with his coaches, but also the use of a "Trackman" and a "Technogym", were all part of his plan to come back.
Only a few people believed Robert-Jan was capable of having a good start to the 2007 season after his bad 2006 season. But a good start he had!
With 12 top 30 finishes in the first 12 tournaments, Robert showed he was seriously working on a new goal in his career (top 50 in the World ranking
so that he can automatically participate in the Majors and the World Golf Championships). The good start of the season continued and got even better.
On his favourite courses, Robert had his best results of 2007. He was 12th at in the French Open in Paris, 12th at Loch Lomond in the Scottish Open
and he was second in the Russian Open at the Moscow Country Club.
At the end of the season a third victory on Tour came close, when he finished third
in the Mallorca Classic. Robert ended the year as number 36 on the Order of Merit, his best result ever!
Robert has shown a great commitment in youth golf the last few years by founding his own youth team in 2005, Golfjuniors. Golfjuniors consists of 3 top Dutch amateurs around 16 years old named Willem Vork, Caroline Karsten en Michael Kraay. Robert helps them to get to the top. See also (www.golfjuniors.nl) Robert-Jan is a very independent person, who manages well in the hectic life of a professional golfer. His family and friends believe in his potential and support him unconditionally. His biggest dream is winning the Masters at Augusta.