Week before US Open, Luiten keen to win in Austria

Published on NewsOK Modified: June 3, 2014 at 10:19 am •  Published: June 3, 2014
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ATZENBRUGG, Austria (AP) — A week before his debut at the U.S. Open, Dutch golfer Joost Luiten has another first to manage — defending a European Tour title at the Lyoness Open.

Luiten won the event last year when he held on to his lead from the second day to win by two strokes from Thomas Bjorn of Denmark at Diamond Country Club.

"It's pretty special to come back here and defend my title," Luiten said on Tuesday. "You don't do that every week and I don't really know what to expect. But it means no extra pressure. It's a nice and positive feeling."

Luiten has an excellent record on the course, 50 kilometers west of Vienna. He placed third at his first visit here in 2011.

"I know I can play good golf on this course so I can start with confidence," he said. "Winning is the goal. A top three would be good but I am really here to win it again."

It was Luiten's second victory on the European Tour after winning the Iskandar Johor Open in Malaysia two years earlier, and was followed in September by his third at the KLM Open in his home country.

Both victories last year made him "a better player," Luiten said. "I've learned a lot and I'm more experienced now."

The Dutchman carried the momentum into 2014, carding three top-10 finishes and placing 12th in the European Tour's flagship BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth last month.

"My season so far is not bad," Luiten said. "I had some really good weeks and some weeks that could have been better."

Luiten, who is ranked 14th in the Race to Dubai, will travel to Pinehurst, North Carolina, for his first appearance at the U.S. Open next week.