Wales Open: Joost Luiten steadies himself to lift Welsh crown as Europeans get in Ryder Cup practice

 

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The Independent Online

Joost Luiten overcame a poor start and a nervous finish to claim his fourth European Tour title in the ISPS Handa Wales Open at Celtic Manor on Sunday. And there was good news for Ryder Cup debutant Jamie Donaldson ahead of this week’s event as he carded a 67 to finish fourth alongside Nicolas Colsaerts, Eddie Pepperell, Marc Warren and Edoardo Molinari.

“I’m happy the way I played over the last four or five weeks, building up to the Ryder Cup,” Donaldson said. “I couldn’t have asked for any more, really.”

European team-mates Thomas Bjorn and Lee Westwood carded closing rounds of 74 and 76 respectively, with Westwood having to birdie the 16th and 18th to avoid an even worse score. “I needed to play some competitive golf and I’ve done that,” said Westwood, 41, ahead of his ninth Ryder Cup. “I hit a few good shots this week, not so good today, but I probably had one eye on next week.”

Luiten, fifth in the defence of his KLM Open title last week, saw a two-shot overnight lead disappear when he bogeyed the first two holes of the final round. But the  28-year-old Dutchman 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 England’s Tommy Fleetwood and Ireland’s Shane Lowry.

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 an 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 hard work down the last,” admitted Luiten, who had been considered by Europe captain Paul McGinley for a Ryder Cup wild card.

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