Joost Luiten holds off Chris Wood to triumph in Oman
Joost Luiten has won the NBO Oman Open.
Joost Luiten fired a closing 68 to hold off the challenge of England’s Chris Wood and win the inaugural NBO Oman Open.
The Dutchman entered Sunday one shot ahead of Wood in a share of the lead but the two could not be separated at the turn.
The duo enjoyed an enthralling nip-and-tuck battle down the back nine but when Luiten holed a 25-foot birdie putt on the 16th to get to 16 under and Wood bogeyed the next, the title was Luiten’s.
Wood finished alone in second at 14 under and it was an encouraging return to form the 2016 Ryder Cup player, who had missed his first three cuts of the season.
“I’m pretty down but in the grand scheme of things it’s night and day to how I’ve been,” he told europeantour.com.
“After a couple of days I’m sure I’ll reflect and see it’s a big step in the right direction this week.”
Wood hit the pin on the first and made a birdie to join the lead but a hat-trick of gains from the second moved Luiten three shots ahead.
A birdie on the sixth kept Wood within touching distance and when Luiten made back-to-back bogeys on the seventh and eighth, the pair were tied at the top.
Both men birdied the 12th but Luiten added another on the 13th and the leading pair both made further gains on the 16th before Wood’s late bogey handed Luiten some breathing space.
“It’s always tough to win out here, all these guys are so good and they keep putting pressure on you,” said Luiten.
“Down the stretch I hit some nice shots, I made some nice putts and it was a nice battle with my friend Woody.
“I need to win another couple to get into the Ryder Cup team but it’s a great start to the year for me.”
Frenchman Julien Guerrier finished third at 13 under, with England’s Robert Rock three shots further back, one ahead of countryman Matthew Southgate and Scot Stephen Gallacher.