Thursday, 26 May 2016
Joost Luiten - tees off on the 17th hole during day one of the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth  (Getty Images)
Joost Luiten - tees off on the 17th hole during day one of the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth (Getty Images)

Joost Luiten continued his excellent recent form to join Scott Hend and Y E Yang at the top of the leaderboard late on the opening day of the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth Club.

The Dutchman, who has had eight top-15 finishes from 11 starts this season, found the green in two at the par-five last and two–putted for a ninth birdie of the day, having bogeyed the first and 16th – the latter after finding a bunker.

“It’s a good opening score,” said Luiten. 

“To have a bogey on the first and get it back to seven under that means that you’ve hit a lot of good shots and I’m very happy with that.

“I just hit a lot of greens and made some nice putts, and 65.” - ​Joost Luiten

Masters Tournament champion Danny Willett carded six birdies in a flawless 66 to lie just one off the pace, with Richard Green, Robert Rock and Jaco van Zyl in the clubhouse on five under.

Hend, who won his second European Tour title in Thailand in March, carded eight birdies and a solitary bogey on the 15th as a more conservative approach paid off for the big-hitting 43 year old.

"I tried aggressive last year and it really doesn't work," said the World Number 85, who missed the cut on his debut last year. "So I thought I'd just be a little bit cautious (off the tee) and a bit more aggressive into the greens. We'll see how that plays out during the week.

"There's a long three more days to go but I'm comfortable wherever I'm playing, whether I'm running last or whether I'm running first. Just put one foot in front of the other and keep going."

Yang, who made history in the 2009 US PGA Championship as the first player to come from behind to beat Tiger Woods in the final round of a Major, also carded eight birdies and one bogey, the Korean's only blemish coming on the first hole.

Willett wants to experience the same support which roared Rory McIlroy to a home victory last week in Ireland.

In his first round in England since winning his maiden Major title at Augusta, the 28 year old from Sheffield impressed to lie just one off the lead.

Willett experienced at first hand the backing McIlroy received in the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, playing alongside the four-time Major winner in the final round.

And although he slipped to a tie for 23rd after a closing 77, Willett would like the English crowds to replicate the atmosphere which helped McIlroy claim his first win of the year at The K Club.

"The reception on the first tee was amazing," said Willett, whose best finish at Wentworth saw him fifth on his debut in 2010, when he led after an opening 65.

"Last week in Ireland was fantastic, but I had a little bit more support out there being a home boy in England. We got a great reception all the way around.

"It's always nice to come back and play in front of the home crowds.- Danny Willett

"It helped Rory last week coming down the stretch and hopefully it can do the same for one of the English lads this week. You always get great crowds at Wentworth and if the good weather will hopefully stay around, we should be in for a great week.

"I've worked really hard the last three weeks. I was a bit lax going into the Players Championship and last week we were grinding for three days and had glimpses of good golf in there.

"I've been on the range again this week. Just because you win a big tournament doesn't mean you can rest on your laurels, I'd rather work to win the next one."

Defending champion Byeong Hun An had held the early lead when he carded four birdies in succession from the fourth, only to bogey the ninth and cover the back nine in 40 to card a level-par 72.


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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1WOOD, ChrisENG18-9
2KARLBERG, RikardSWE18-8
3WILLETT, DannyENG18-7
T4WATTEL, RomainFRA18-6
T4AIKEN, ThomasRSA18-6
T4QUESNE, JulienFRA18-6

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