Tuesday 21 November 2017

Luiten provides fans with Dutch treat

Joost Luiten
Joost Luiten

Claude Hooper

JOOST LUITEN sent the home crowd crazy as he secured Holland's first victory in 10 years at their national KLM Open ... yet doughty Damien McGrane also left Kennemer smiling broadly after banking his biggest cheque this year, €85,000, in a fighting tie for third.

Luiten (27) recalls the excitement of being in the crowd following Maarten Lafeber as he won the Dutch Open in 2003 and is aware of the massive boost that breakthrough gave to golf in his homeland.

It made his defeat of Spanish veteran Miguel Angel Jimenez (49), with a par on the first hole of sudden death, all the more special.

As thousands surrounding the 18th green whooped and hollered in delight, Luiten said: "To win this is a dream ... this is a moment I'll remember forever."

McGrane shot an accomplished 69 in the final group, with Luiten registering a 68 and Jimenez a 67 as these two engaged in a thrilling gladiatorial battle that left them tied on 12-under.

The Kells man (42) played sublimely from tee to green in driving North Sea gales and would have contended strongly for a second European Tour victory had his putter not turned cold.

Instead, McGrane finished level with Gregory Havret of France and England's Simon Dyson and Ross Fisher on nine-under.

"I'd plenty of reasonable opportunities, but couldn't polish them off ... you needed to hole them all out there today just to keep up with the two boys.

"Still, I'm very satisfied ... I've been playing very well lately, so, needless to say, I'm hoping for more to come," added McGrane, who played with renewed freedom and confidence in Holland after making his card safe at Gleneagles two weeks back.

He gave such a spirited account of himself at Kennemer that McGrane is well capable of adding a hundred or so grand to the €331,129 that currently places him 71st in the Race to Dubai and clinching his place in the 60-man field at the season-ending DP World Tour Championship.

McGrane last made it into Europe's elite finale in 2010, which was his fifth appearance in six years.

A week after shining at the Walker Cup, Waterford's Kevin Phelan banked his first cheque as a pro, €3,457, in 67th on six-over after a closing 74.

Shane Lowry earned €17,370 in 26th on two-under after his final round 73, one clear of Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley (71, T30, €13,664).

Ireland's other finishers were David Higgins (71, T58, +4, €5,040) and Simon Thornton (72, T63, +5, €4,320).

Irish Independent

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