Dutchman bounces back with solid finish in Dubai
The future looks promising again for Holland’s number one golfer. Joost Luiten has bounced back after his wrist operation to play four solid tournaments in the last few weeks. In Dubai at the weekend, he opened and closed with rounds of 69 to finish on 7-under par in the European Tour’s climax event, the DP World Tour Championship on the Earth Course, Jumeirah Golf Estates (15-18 November).
After a five-month absence from competitive golf following surgery on his left wrist, the 32-year old from Rotterdam has picked himself up to turn his thwarted season around. Indeed, his return to tournament golf in October, after being laid-off all summer, saw an immediate return to form with an impressive 11th place in the ‘Andalucia Valderrama Masters hosted by the Sergio Garcia Foundation’, which incidentally, Garcia won for the second year in succession.
Luiten had carefully followed doctor’s advice before picking up a club too soon. He did not want to jeopardise his recovery after the operation. Although there wasn’t always rest in his busy schedule of commitments off the course with sponsors, television and the like, he did take advantage of being at home in Holland to relax and train, and regain his mental focus, before eventually playing a few holes of golf on the newly-opened Bernardus course in Cromvoirt, Noord-Brabant.
Dutch golf in need of a boost
Dutch golf had been in desperate need of a boost this season with Joost out of action all summer. There had been little sign of anyone stepping into the void until Anne van Dam burst into the spotlight at the end of September. The 22-year old from Arnhem won the ‘Estrella Damm Ladies Open’ in Spain with the remarkable score of 26-under par. How’s that for inspiration!! A few weeks later, Luiten responded with his own good performance at Valderrama.
He flew to Spain with a new man on his bag: John “the big man” Dempster. The Scot, who has earned his crust as a Tour caddie for nearly 30 years working for the likes of Barry Lane and Stephen Gallacher, just missed out on a top-10 finish at Valderrama during his debut with the Dutchman.
Joost back in business
‘Rollercoaster’ is the word that springs to mind when looking back on Luiten’s 2018 golf season. The six-times winner on the European Tour has had some enormous ups and downs to contend with this year. Many of his fans thought that it was going to be ‘Joost’s Year’ after his early victory in the NBO Oman Open in February. It all looked a good omen for Paris in September when Holland’s golfing hero could perhaps fulfil his dream of becoming the first Dutchman to play in the Ryder Cup. But his scores worsened in the months that followed as he struggled to practice and play golf with a nagging wrist problem.
Since his return in October, Luiten has played in four tournaments on the European Tour to bring this season’s total to 14 events. His prizemoney for the year amounts to 685,676 euros which is pretty good when you consider that he has been out of circulation for nearly half of the season. Last year he competed in 26 events and accumulated 1,057,082 euros in prizemoney.
Sandwiched between McIlroy and Molinari
In this year’s DP World Tour Championship in Dubai, he finished on 7-under par for a share of 22nd place and a cheque for 79,800 euros. It’s a respectable sounding score which becomes even more impressive when you realise that Luiten was sandwiched between some big names on the leaderboard. Rory McIlory (Northern Ireland) and Englishman Lee Westwood, winner of the ‘NedBank Golf Challenge hosted by Gary Player’ the week before, both finished on 8-under par while the eventual winner of this year’s Race to Dubai, Italian Francesco Molinari closed out his magical year at 6-under. The Dutchman’s fine finish sees him close the 2017/18 season in 55th position in the ‘Race to Dubai Ranking’. His Official World Golf Ranking is now 110th.
Joost says that he is happy with this result after a difficult year: “It gives me confidence for next season”. He also admits to hitting the ball ten metres further since his wrist operation. Now that’s all sounding very positive. Once the putting has been polished-up, who knows what next season may bring.
Next stop? Melbourne to play in the World Cup partnered by Daan Huizing.
Good luck, guys!
PICTURED: Joost Luiten enjoying golf in Holland. © Photography by Golfing Inspirations.