By Mathieu Wood
Joost Luiten says his return to form owes everything to a change in mentality as he targets a third title in his home event at the KLM Open.
The Dutchman is playing this season on a career money exemption category after a difficult campaign last season in which he recorded just one top ten.
By comparison this year, Luiten has finished third three times in as many months, including in back-to-back events in Thailand and India, to sit 21st on the Race to Dubai Rankings in Partnership with Rolex.
"Every year, everybody starts from scratch," said Luiten ahead of the 103rd of the Netherlands’ national open.
"I had a tough year last year, I took a break, but I knew when the season started that I was ready for it again and I was back to where I knew I could be.
"It was good to show that a couple of weeks and to be battling for the win instead of battling to make cuts. It is a totally different mindset.
"Last year I was fighting against myself and fighting to make cuts and tried to get some points on the board.
"Now I don’t care about that, I just want to win the tournament.
"That doesn’t mean you are going to be up there every week but that is the mindset that you are looking for.
"That is a positive mindset instead of a negative mindset of ‘I hope I make the weekend’.
"If you try to win the golf tournament then most of the time you will be there at the weekend so that is the mindset that you try to have. It is night and day from a year ago."
Luiten won the most recent of his six DP World Tour titles in 2018 and admits he has his sights set on victory this week at Bernardus Golf, his home club in the Netherlands.
"I am here to beat everybody, not just the Dutch players," he said.
"We are not the biggest golf country in the world. I think it would be wrong to be happy to be the best Dutchman.
"I want to be the best of everybody and that is what I focus on. I have been lucky to have done it twice.
"It always creates a lot of expectation from people but obviously I have that expectation myself.
"I know what I can do, I know how good I am and I want to beat everybody."
Luiten won the Dutch Open for the first time in 2013 at Kennemer Golf & Country Club, overcoming Miguel Ángel Jiménez in a play-off, before he ended a two-year winless run on the DP World Tour three years later at The Dutch.
The 37-year-old believes those two victories emphasise just how unpredictable golf can be as he looks to create more fond memories on home soil.
"In 2013 I was playing great, had just won my second event in Austria a couple of weeks before so I am came in with a lot of confidence," he reflected.
"To battle it out with Miguel, one of the legends of the game, was great. To win it was really special.
"In 2016, I went into the tournament with no trust, no confidence, I had lost my game. I had no clue where the ball was going.
"On the first day something clicked and I won by three. That is how silly this game is.
"It shows you that you should never give up and always try to believe in yourself, although that is hard when you are not feeling great."
With vast crowds expected this week, Luiten leads the home charge as Bernardus plays host for the third consecutive year since its move in 2021.
“It would be special to win three times on three different courses in Holland," he said.
“Winning on Tour is always special, you don’t do it much and to win in front of your home crowd is hard to describe.”