Wednesday, 16 May 2018
Joost Luiten  (Getty Images)
Joost Luiten (Getty Images)

Joost Luiten is hoping home advantage can spur him on to a second win of the season at the inaugural Belgian Knockout.

Luiten is a proud Dutchman but has made his base in Belgium for the last 18 months, and will face just a 15-minute commute to get to Rinkven International Golf Club over the four days in Antwerp.

The first two days will be 18-hole stroke play, with the top 64 then advancing to a nine-hole stroke play knockout and the winner being crowned on Sunday after 90 holes over the innovative new format.

That may take some adjusting to for Luiten but his surroundings certainly will not, and the NBO Oman Open champion is looking forward to an exciting week.

"I live in Belgium now since about a year and a half ago," he said. "I live literally 15 minutes down the road here. It's a home event for me so it's nice to sleep in your own bed.

"I came off a bit of an injury before Morocco and China so it was a good test for me to play those two events. It's also good after two weeks of playing to give it a bit of rest again and recover and work on my fitness to get it as strong as I can before the big event starts.

"I think the big difference between this year so far and last year is the driver. I'm hitting the greens a lot better. I changed a bit of equipment and now I have the consistency that I want and that's what my game is built on, hitting fairways and hitting greens.

"Last year I struggled too much off the tee and then you're struggling into the greens as well. So I'm very happy with the drive and if I can drive it well, I can play my game and I will be a danger."

The Belgian Knockout is one of a host of new formats the European Tour has introduced in recent seasons, following on from the ISPS Handa World Super 6 Perth and the GolfSixes, with the Shot Clock Masters just three weeks away.

Luiten is a six-time winner in regular European Tour stroke play events but he is delighted to see new ideas being tried to grow the game.

"It's great to try new formats," he said. "Nine holes knockout, I think it's going to be quick, you've got to be on top of the ball from the first hole. You can't really let your guard down because you will lose.

"So hopefully I can do well, make the weekend and then play in the knockout because I think it will be a lot of fun for the players but also for the spectators because it's going to be quick.

"It's great to have a tournament in Belgium and they have some great players on Tour now with Thomas Detry and Thomas Pieters and (Nicolas) Colsaerts.

"It needs a tournament like this. I think it will help grow the game even more than it has been growing over the last couple of years so it's great to be back on the schedule and hopefully it can grow in the future."

The European Tour is making its first stop in Belgium for 18 years and one man in the field who has won on Belgian soil in Robert Karlsson - winner of the 1999 Belgian Open.

The Swede is happy to be back and agrees with Luiten that the likes of Colsaerts, Detry and Pieters can take the game from strength to strength.

"It's great that Belgium is back on the map and the tournament schedule," he said. "Obviously they have fantastic players as well. It's great it's coming back and we are excited to be here.

"We need to have top players in the country otherwise the clubs in the long run are going to struggle. We see very clearly in Sweden now, when Henrik (Stenson) has played really well and put us on the golf map and it creates more golf on the golf courses in Sweden.

"So in the long run, it's very, very important to have the top events but we also need to have Challenge Tour events and some sort of local tour, because that's how you keep feeding new Henriks on the golf course in Sweden and Thomas Pieters and whatever country you're in. That's why it's so important with these events."

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1CAMPILLO, JorgeESP18 -8
2HEATH, JamesENG18 -7
T3DETRY, ThomasBEL18 -6
T3PEREZ, VictorFRA18 -6
T3PAPADATOS, DimitriosAUS18 -6

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