Saturday 24 February 2018

Dutch delight as Josh Luiten wins KLM Open, Damien McGrane was third

Damien McGrane finished in a tie for third
Damien McGrane finished in a tie for third

Phil Casey

Joost Luiten made it a day of double Dutch delight with victory in the KLM Open after compatriot Daan Huizing won the Kharkov Superior Cup on the Challenge Tour.

Minutes after Huizing secured a two-shot win in the Ukraine, Luiten beat Miguel Angel Jimenez on the first hole of a sudden-death play-off at Kennemer Golf Club.

A par on the 18th was enough to give Luiten his third European Tour title and second of the season after Jimenez three-putted from long range.

Jimenez, already the oldest winner in European Tour history, began the day a shot behind playing partner Luiten but quickly moved into the lead courtesy of a hat-trick of birdies from the second and another on the sixth.

The 49-year-old, who broke his leg in a skiing accident shortly after his win in the Hong Kong Open aged 48 and 318 days last November, missed from two feet for a birdie on the 12th but soon enjoyed a two-shot cushion when he birdied the next and Luiten bogeyed.

However, Luiten birdied the 14th after a superb approach to five feet and got back on level terms on the next when Jimenez failed to get up and down from a greenside bunker.

Both players bogeyed the 17th and parred the last to finish tied on 12 under par, Jimenez carding a 67 and Luiten a 68.

They returned to the 18th for the play-off and Jimenez needed a fairway wood for his second shot into a strong wind on the 400-yard par four, just finding the front edge of the green.

However, the 19-time European Tour winner charged his birdie attempt six feet past the hole and missed the return, leaving Luiten to hole from three feet for the win which brought a massive cheer from the packed galleries.

"Miguel was playing great, especially on the front nine when he started with four birdies in six holes and I was struggling a little bit," said Luiten, who won the Lyoness Open in Austria earlier this season.

"I made a few mistakes and although I saved par each time I thought to just hang in there until the back nine and hopefully I can make a move there and that happened."

Luiten finished second to Ross Fisher at Kennemer in 2007 and added: "It was my first year and a great week but it definitely gave me the taste for more and to win it now I can't believe it yet, it's unbelievable. I think tonight it will hit me.

"I don't know what it means for Dutch golf but I think it's pretty big. Maarten Lafeber won it in 2003 and that was huge, and to have another Dutch winner now I think it will help the game here and hopefully we can create more Dutch winners for this tournament."

Jimenez, who was seeking his 13th victory since turning 40, said: "Joost played very well and there had to be only one winner. The Dutch Open deserved the winner.

"It was a tough day in the wind and not easy for anyone. I was happy to be in contention once more."

Three-time champion Simon Dyson held a share of the lead early in the final round after making three birdies in his first four holes but saw his chances of a fourth win come to an end with a double-bogey on the 15th.

He had to settle for a share of third place on nine under par alongside fellow Englishman Ross Fisher, Ireland's Damien McGrane and France's Gregory Havret.

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