Joost magic! Luiten makes it 27 birdies in a week

Reuters News
Posted: Oct 18, 2014 1:27 PM

By Tony Jimenez

ASH England (Reuters) - Joost Luiten took his tally this week to a remarkable 27 birdies and one eagle as the Dutch dynamo thrashed Spain's Pablo Larrazabal 6 & 5 on Saturday to charge into the Volvo World Match Play Championship semi-finals.

Luiten has recorded the two biggest victories of the 50th anniversary edition of the tournament -- he also brushed past Frenchman Alexander Levy 4 & 3 on Thursday -- and it seems as though match play golf suits him down to a tee.

"I like this format because you can be aggressive and I'm usually an aggressive player," he told Reuters in an interview after crushing Larrazabal with an inspired run of eight birdies in 13 holes on a grey, wet day at the London Club in Kent.

"This is a great match play course too because if you play well you can make a lot of birdies. I am playing some consistent golf and my putter is working well."

Luiten is the only competitor in the field with a 100 percent record from his four matches but he played down his staggering birdie haul.

"I don't think you can compare this format with the regular strokeplay events we play," said the winner of last month's Wales Open.

"In match play you are sometimes given birdie putts when they are not 100 percent gimmes."

Luiten will meet Finn Mikko Ilonen in one 18-hole semi-final on Sunday morning while top seed Henrik Stenson takes on South African George Coetzee in the other.

The 28-year-old, who always wears Dutch orange on the final day of a tournament, looked for a long stretch of this season like he would secure a place in Europe's Ryder Cup team before an untimely shoulder problem put paid to his dreams.

"I got a little bit of an injury after the U.S. Open in June and needed an injection in my right shoulder," said world number 37 Luiten.

"I couldn't really practice as much as I liked and my results went backwards. Unluckily for me it came at the wrong moment and I just missed out on a Ryder Cup spot.

"Captain Paul McGinley told me that if I carried on showing good form he might pick me but I couldn't do it.

"I understood that he couldn't pick me especially as I don't have the experience of the other boys he picked," he said, referring to last month's wildcard selections Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood and Stephen Gallacher.

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Luiten is now doubly determined to become the first Dutchman to play in the Ryder Cup when holders Europe take on the U.S. in Minnesota in two years' time.

"I have spoken to the three rookies, Victor Dubuisson, Jamie Donaldson and Stephen Gallacher, and they all said it was a special experience and that I had to be there next time," added Luiten.

"Nobody from Holland has ever qualified for the team before so it would be very special if I could do it.

"I watched it on television last month and looked on it as a fan. I didn't look on it as something I missed out on, I just tried to watch and learn and hopefully I'll be there in the future," said the four-times European Tour winner.

"Even on television you can feel the atmosphere and you can imagine how great it must be to play in the Ryder Cup among all those fans and to win the trophy."

(Editing by Ed Osmond)