Joost Luiten holds steady for win in Austria

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DUTCHMAN Joost Luiten shrugged off a shaky start and a one-hour weather delay yesterday to claim his second European Tour title in the Lyoness Open in Austria.

Luiten carded a closing 71 at Diamond Country Club to finish 17-under par and win by two shots from Denmark’s Thomas Bjorn, who birdied the 18th for a 68 to claim outright second ahead of China’s Liang Wenchong (66) and France’s Romain Wattel (69).

Defending champion Bernd Wiesberger, who needed to finish 12th or better to have a chance of climbing into the world’s top 60 and qualify for this week’s US Open, finished in a share of 14th after a costly bogey on the 18th in his 69.

Luiten began the day with a three-shot lead but saw that instantly reduced to one when he three-putted the opening hole and playing partner Jorge Campillo made birdie.

A birdie on the second quickly repaired the damage but Luiten’s lead was back to one again when Wattel made his fourth birdie of the day at the sixth.

Luiten, whose previous victory came in the Iskandar Johor Open in 2011, responded with a two-putt birdie on the par-five seventh, and when Wattel failed to get up and down from a greenside bunker on the ninth, the gap was back to three shots once more.

The 27-year-old looked like having more breathing space when Wattel three-putted the 12th, only to make exactly the same mistake himself on the 11th, and with Liang making a birdie on the 15th and Bjorn picking up shots on the tenth and 12th, they were now just two shots back.

Play was suspended due to a lightning threat with Luiten on the 14th tee, but he showed no ill-effects when it resumed an hour later and struck the decisive blow on the 16th, where he set up an easy birdie.

“It’s been a great week so I am really, really happy,” Luiten said. “It was a long day, I started off with a bogey but I hit the ball nicely so I just wanted to focus on that, hit the greens, two-putt and make the others chase me.

“Unfortunately I made a few mistakes on the greens and didn’t make a lot of putts, but in the end I was three clear after my birdie on 16 and that gave me a little bit of air. It’s always nice to finish par, par and hold the trophy.”

Speaking about the weather delay, Luiten added: “At that time I wanted to play on but it was good to have a break for me because I wasn’t playing really well so I just had some food and tried to focus again and went out there and tried to make pars and sneak in a birdie and that’s what I did.”

Craig Lee was the best-placed Scot, carding a final-round 69 to finish nine shots off the pace.