Friday 18 January 2019

Luiten relieved after edging out Lowry in Wales

Holland's Joost Luiten recovered from a poor start and overcame a nervous finish to claim his fourth European Tour title in the ISPS Handa Wales Open - one stroke ahead of Offaly's Shane Lowry - at Celtic Manor.

Lowry was never able to get on level terms with the leaders, carding two bogeys and one birdie in his first five holes, but birdied the last for a round of 70 and to jump out of a large group of players on 12 under.

Luiten, who was fifth in the defence of his KLM Open title on home soil last week, saw his two-shot overnight lead disappear when he bogeyed the first two holes of the final round. But the 28-year-old (pictured, below) hit back with three birdies and one bogey on the back nine to card a closing 71 and finish 14 under par, one shot ahead of Lowry and England's Tommy Fleetwood.

Fleetwood had looked out of contention following a double bogey on the 13th, but then chipped in for a birdie on the 14th, holed from five feet for eagle on the next and also birdied the last three holes for a closing 67.

That left Luiten needing to par the last three holes to win and he looked to have done the hard part with a superb up and down from a greenside bunker on the 17th, only to hit an amazingly wild drive on the last.

It took several minutes for the ball to be found in dense rough but Luiten was able to hack it across the fairway and into more rough, from where he found the green with his approach and two-putted from long range.

"It was tough, it was hard work down the last," Luiten admitted. "I didn't have the start I wanted with two bogeys and I just tried to hang in there and wait for my chances and made some nice birdies at the end and a par down the last was luckily enough."

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