Luiten starts well in KLM defence

European Tour

Joost Luiten made a great start to the defence of his KLM Open title in the Netherlands, grabbing a share of the clubhouse lead on five under.

Play was suspended due to bad light on Thursday with a number of players still out on course, but Luiten was able to reach the clubhouse after posting a superb 65 on home soil.

The Dutchman was even par through 11 holes when play was briefly suspended earlier in the day, but he returned to post three birdies and an eagle in his last seven holes.

He leads alongside Scotsman Jamie McLeary, who had reached five under when play was suspended with two holes of his opening round remaining.

Italy’s Edoardo Molinari lies one shot further back alongside countryman Andrea Pavan and Frenchman Gary Stal, the trio having all reached the clubhouse safely with 66s.

“It is always nice to shoot a 65,” said co-leader Luiten, who defeated Miguel Angel Jimenez in a play-off to win last year’s KLM Open.

“I played well and didn’t make any mistakes. That’s the key on this course, keep the ball in play and take your chances. For me it was a good solid round and I hit some nice spots.

“You have to take your chances. Sometimes you can be conservative and take irons off the tee but if you feel good with the drive you have to hit it and make a tough hole into a birdie hole. It all depends how the winds but I was hitting my drive well and I tried to take advantage of that.”

On catching fire after the short suspension of play, Luiten added: “I wasn’t playing bad but just not hitting it that close.

“Then a couple of holes on that stretch of five, six, seven are scoring holes and I took advantage. I thought if I made a couple of birdies it would be a nice round and the eagle on seven was a bonus, then I hit it stiff on eight and all of a sudden you are five under for the round.

“It’s the first day so you just stay patient and don’t make big mistakes and your chances will come, and they did.”

Second-placed Molinari, meanwhile, said of his 66: “It was a really good round especially as I wasn’t hitting the ball well off the tee,” the Italian said of his six birdie, two bogey effort.

“I chipped well and had a lot of good iron shots, so I need to work on my driving and then I should be alright.”

The delay earlier in the day occurred after BMW International Open winner Fabrizio Zanotti was injured by a ball struck from the 14th tee by Alexandre Kaleka when he was on the 16th fairway.

Zanotti was taken to a hospital as a precaution. He was accompanied by fellow players Felipe Aguilar and Ricardo Gonzalez, who withdrew from the tournament to stay with him.

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