Luiten looking for hat-trick in KLM Dutch Open to mark centenary at International

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Dutchman Joost Luiten praticising at the 2019 KLM Open
Dutchman Joost Luiten is looking to make history by claiming his third national title at this week’s KLM Open, at Amsterdam’s The International Golf Club. Picture by GETTY IMAGES

HOME favourite Joost Luiten is keen to make up for lost time when he tees it up at the 100th edition of the KLM Open in Amsterdam.

The 33-year-old was forced to miss last year’s event at The Dutch due to a wrist injury which sidelined the six-time European Tour winner for five months.

However Luiten is optimistic ahead of this week’s event, which will be hosted at The International for the first time.

Luiten said: “I am really excited. I missed it last year and I was gutted I couldn’t play because of my wrist operation.

“But that is also part of being a professional golfer, sometimes you need to take care of your body. So I’m really happy to be back.

“I love this event. I have done well in the past, I’ve won it twice and had a couple good results.

“So for some reason this always feels like my event really and hopefully we can take that feeling on to the golf course again.

“You need to play some really good golf around this track. I think the wind is going to be a big factor, it’s pretty open and no trees to hide, so the wind is going to make it tough.

“I think you have to be careful with the greens and miss it in the right places. If you have some good iron play, if you can hit the fairways and the greens you can have a good score.

“The fact that we are so close to Schiphol Airport and KLM headquarters, it is great for the tournament because it’s the 100-year anniversary of the Dutch Open – and 100 years for KLM as a company – so it is a great combination and a great spot to be.”

Luiten – a two time winner of his national open – overcame Spaniard Miguel Ángel Jiménez in a play-off at Kennemer Golf & Country Club, in 2013, before going on to win by three shots at The Dutch in 2016.

If he was to add another trophy to his cabinet this week, the Dutchman would join an elite group of Seve Ballesteros, Bernhard Langer and Simon Dyson as the only players to secure three triumphs in his Netherlands homeland.

Defending champion Ashun Wu is also excited to return to the Netherlands following his dramatic victory 12 months ago.

Wu said: “The course looks great. I played nine holes this morning and the conditions of the greens and fairways are very good.

“But we don’t know about the wind. It can be quite breezy, so this golf course will be tough.

“I am very happy to come back to the KLM Open and defend my title,” added Wu, whose first win came in the Volvo China Open, in 2015.

“I still remember winning like yesterday. The memories come back quite quickly, and it is very exciting to be back here.

“Last year is still exciting, every shot is still in your mind, so very happy to be back at the KLM Open, ” said the 34-year-old.

“It is better and better after a few weeks. We played in Sweden, Switzerland and Hamburg, so my game is improving every week.

“I am looking forward to this week and it is going to be a tough course if the wind is blowing,” said Wu, who also won the Lyoness Open, in Austria, in 2016.

Wu became the first Chinese player to win three times on the European Tour, sinking his birdie putt on the final hole to secure a one-stroke victory over Englishman Chris Wood.

Wu, who also won twice in Japan before joining the European Tour via the Asian Tour with his win in China four years ago, is hoping those positive memories will serve him well on a different course this year.

Meanwhile, two-time Major Champion Martin Kaymer returns to action after a five-week break following his tied 20th result at the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open, in July.

Kaymer is a former winner of the Dutch Open claiming victory in 2010, at Hilversumsche Golf Club.

And after recharging his batteries away from golf, the German is looking for a strong finish to his 2019 Race to Dubai campaign.

Kaymer said: “I needed a break after that super, super busy summer of going from one tournament straight to another, and I couldn’t prepare for tournaments anymore.

“So I needed a break and I didn’t really know how long I needed a break for,” added the 2015 US Open winner.

“I took five weeks off because my brother got married two weeks ago and a good friend of mine got married last week.

“The first three weeks I didn’t really play golf at all because of the busy summer, but then the last two weeks I’ve prepared a little bit for the rest of the season.

“It was such a nice feeling to get away from the golf course, and then look forward to seeing everybody and play the game.

“I won the tournament but on a different course. I really enjoyed Hilversumsche, great year in general in 2010 for me, winning my first Major and winning so close to home.

“It is one of those tournaments I really enjoy because I can almost drive home whenever I havea late tee time the next day, I will stay at my own place and it is very comfortable.

“I feel very relaxed. I don’t really know what to expect this week because I haven’t really done much because I didn’t really feel like practising that much. But it is a great week to enjoy the game.

“Some of my family will come so I think Thursday and Friday are obviously big days to see where the game is at – to see if I have a chance to win or not.

“Usually Saturday is the big day to place yourself, but for me this week it’s Thursday and Friday to see how comfortable I feel.”

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