Luiten back in front at Celtic Manor

European Tour

After relinquishing the lead in round two, Joost Luiten bounced back on Saturday to retake the ISPS Handa Wales Open lead.

The Dutchman shot a flawless six-birdie 65 to take his total to 14 under par – two shots clear of overnight leader Shane Lowry, whose 68 was only good enough for second place.

Gregory Havret and Thongchai Jaidee follow in a tie for third on 11 under, while Edoardo Molinari lies a further shot back in fourth.

Luiten has been in superb form of late, posting top-five finishes in his last two starts in Europe. He’ll be hoping he can turn that good form into a first win of the season on Sunday.

“I’m happy with a good score today,” said Luiten. “I played solid, consistent, hit a lot of greens and holed some nice putts to start with. I didn’t really make a lot in the middle part, but came back strong at the end with three birdies on the last four, and I’m happy.

“You’re in the last group, the greens are not as good as in the morning maybe and you just have to be patient out on the greens. They are quite soft and you have to create chances every hole and they will go in eventually and luckily it did for me at the end.”

Lowry started brightly with a few birdies but could only manage a string of 12 consecutive pars coming home as Luiten hit the front.

“I got off to a flyer and just nothing really happened for me. I did make three good par saves, but I would have liked to make a couple more birdies and probably should have,” said Lowry.

“I’m right where I want to be for tomorrow and I’m looking forward to it. I’m still there. If you had given me this Thursday morning before I stood on the first tee, I would have taken your hand off. I’m where I want to be and I feel like I have a chance tomorrow.

“Joost is playing lovely but I felt like I played lovely myself. Just warm up the putter tonight and see what happens tomorrow.”

Havret carded a 66 to move up to third and said: “I played good. Unfortunately the last three holes were not as good as the first 15, but it was definitely a good round.

“Anything red (under par) in this beautiful course is always good, and that’s three in a row and hopefully another one tomorrow.”

Of the three Ryder Cup players left in the field, Welshman Jamie Donaldson was best placed on eight under after a 68, with Lee Westwood three under after posting the same score and Thomas Bjorn two under after a level-par 71.

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