FJ ambassador Joost Luiten (FJ Sport 53139 & RainGrip Glove) claimed his maiden European Tour title with a one shot victory from fellow FJ ambassador Daniel Chopra (FJ ICON shoes & SciFlex glove) at the Iskandar Johor Open.
Trailing overnight leader Chopra by four shots at the start of the day, Luiten compiled a six under par 65 to fend off the Swede with a winning score of 15 under par.
After the tournament had been reduced to 54 holes due to three days of storm interruptions at Horizon Hills Golf and Country Club, Chopra could only produce a final round of 70 and needed a birdie at the last to ensure he finished alone in second on 14 under.
Complementing the top two players was FJ loyalists Padraig Harrington (DryJoys Tour & PureTouch) and Rhys Davies (FJ ICON & SciFlex) who ended in a tie for third on 13 under. Harrington signed for closing a 69 while Davies carded an impressive 65 to climb the leaderboard.
“I don’t believe it yet,” said Luiten. “I think when you’re in position to win you always have some nerves, but I think that’s normal.
After a stunning 63 gave him the first round lead, the 25 year old had slipped down the leaderboard with a second round 70. But it could have been worse – and three closing birdies at least gave him a platform to launch a challenge. And he took full advantage with a brilliant bogey-free effort, with five of his birdies on the front nine.
“I played really well in the first round, and then I started off pretty well and was one up after six holes. But then the delay came in, and I had a really, really terrible start on the third day,” added Luiten. “I started off with a bogey, and then a double, and I was suddenly three over for the round. Davies collected six birdies in his strong closing effort to join Harrington on 13 under par.
Harrington, winner last year when the event was on the Asian Tour, reached the turn two under after birdies on the eighth and ninth. However, consecutive bogeys at the 11th and 12th halted his progress and, although he picked up two more shots at the next two holes, he ultimately fell just short of defending his title.
Luiten’s first victory comes on the back of some impressive form – he had been in the top 15 in eight of his last 14 European Tour events. It also puts to bed the wrist injury which plagued him throughout the start of his career, and takes him to just outside the top 15 that will split the $7,500,000 bonus pool in The Race to Dubai.
“I have been close a few times this year, and to finally win one and get close to the top 15 is unbelievable. And hopefully I can play well in Dubai and push along a little bit,” he added.