Dutchman Joost Luiten held his nerve to complete a thrilling one-shot victory and claim the 2014 ISPS HANDA Wales Open.
Luiten’s 14 under par total was just one shot better than his playing partner, Shane Lowry, and Tommy Fleetwood, who finished strongly with four birdies and an eagle on the last five holes.
Knowing that a par five should secure victory, Luiten carved an anxious drive way right into the thick rough on the final hole and failed to find the fairway with his hack out. He collected himself to find the heart of the green and removed all doubt by lagging his approach putt to 18 inches, leaving a tap-in for victory. After collecting the trophy, Luiten admitted:
I made the worst swing of the week off the 18th tee and I still don’t know how I made that par. 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.
Celtic Manor’s Twenty Ten Course has been a happy hunting ground for Luiten. He tied for fourth in the ISPS HANDA Wales Open last year and was joint second the year before. His £300,000 winner’s cheque was the highest pay day of his career which had included three previous victories on the European Tour. Luiten said:
I love this place. Sometimes you just walk onto a golf course and it feels like home and you can see the shots. That’s why I play well here.
With a few holes left to play, a dozen players were fighting for the title within just two shots of the lead. They included Wales’ Jamie Donaldson who moves on to Gleneagles for his Ryder Cup debut in fine fettle after carding a final round 67 for a share of fourth place.
Big crowds turned out over the weekend to cheer Donaldson and his Ryder Cup team-mates Lee Westwood and Thomas Bjorn. They were also entertained by trick shot shows and Q&A interviews in the Tented Village from Wales rugby captains past and present, Jonathan Davies, Martyn Williams and Sam Warburton.