Joost Luiten of The Netherlands stormed to victory in the US$2 million Iskandar Johor Open title with a superb closing round of six-under-par 65, winning by one shot from second round leader Daniel Chopra of Sweden.
Luiten, 25, finished with a 54-hole total of 15-under-par 198 in the rain-shortened tournament, played at the Horizon Hills Golf & Country Club in Nusajaya. He became only the fourth Dutch golfer to win on the Euroepan Tour and the first since Robert Jan-Derksen in the 2005 Madeira Islands Open.
“Well it is always tough to get your first Tour win and you’ll always believe that you’ll get a good one. I’ve come close for a few times and I’m really relieved to finally win and looking for the next one,” said Luiten, who won US$333,330.
“I knew at the beginning of the week that it will be raining season here so it didn’t really bother me. You just need to relax when the delay comes and accept it. You can’t let it get to you or it will affect your round,” added the Dutchman, who wears two gloves for a better grip.
Chopra needed to hole a 20-foot eagle putt on the par five closing hole to force a playoff but missed on the high side, settling for birdie and sole possession of second place on 14-under-par after a closing 70. His title hopes looked to have faded after a double bogey on seven but the two-time PGA Tour winner battled back with three birdies in his last six holes.
“I had a bad break there (on hole 7) but I knew there was a long way to go and if I could get some birdies, I would still have a chance to win. I just tried to stay patient,” said Chopra, who grew up in India.
“It is a great way to finish the year. It has been a long hard working year and it is nice to have this good finish at the end of the year. It gives you some encouragement for the next year,” added the Swede.
2010 champion Padraig Harrington could also have forced extra holes by making three at 18, but the popular Irishman sent his second shot into thick grass just beside the lake that borders the green. He left his chip well short and could only manage par, sharing third place on 13-under with Welshman Rhys Davies who finished with an excellent 65 and England’s James Morrison.
Thai icon Thongchai Jaidee, Charlie Wi of Korea, Shiv Kapur of India and Bangladeshi Siddikur ended their campaigns as the top Asians in joint 15th place.
The weather-plagued tournament saw a number of suspensions since the first round, forcing the tournament to be curtailed to 54 holes when the leaders only managed to complete one hole of their third rounds yesterday. This is the second consecutive week that a joint European Tour and Asian Tour event has been cut down to 54 holes due to weather woes, following the Barclays Singapore Open at Sentosa Golf Club last week.
Final Scores (54 holes)
-15 Joost LUITEN 63-70-65
-14 Daniel CHOPRA 64-65-70
-13 Padraig HARRINGTON 64-67-69, Rhys DAVIES 70-65-65, James MORRISON 66-65-69
-12 Gregory BOURDY 64-67-70
-11 Soren KJELDSEN 71-64-67
-10 Fredrik ANDERSSON HED 68-67-68, Jose Manuel LARA 67-67-69, Marcus FRASER 64-70-69, Darren BECK 70-65-68