European Tour

Luiten surges to Irish lead

Joost Luiten (Gallo)
Joost Luiten (Gallo)

Maynooth - Dutchman Joost Luiten produced a flawless third round six under par 66 to move one shot clear of his rivals at 13-under par at the Irish Open on Saturday.

The absence of Ireland's four Major champions makes little difference to the 27-year-old as he seeks a second victory this month at Carton House.

"It's always good if you have a round with no bogeys, especially today, as it was quite tricky there with some rain in the beginning and some strong winds in the afternoon," said Luiten who captured the Lyoness Open this month in Austria.

He added: "I've been playing good the last two weeks, the last three weeks actually. I now just need to go out there tomorrow (Sunday), and try to do the same, and hopefully that's enough to win the trophy."

Spain's Pablo Larrazabal, also with a round of 66, is in second place at 12-under par and while Ireland's four Major winners in Padraig Harrington, Graeme McDowell, Rory McIlroy and Darren Clarke missed the second round cut, Luiten is under no illusion he still faces a tough assignment if he is to capture the prize.

"You really can't worry about who is behind you on the leader board as the key for me will be trying to get some early birdies to help set up a good score," said Luiten.

"So I am not bothered who is behind me.

"I won earlier this month in Austria and that is always good to get under your belt as it just makes things a little easier, and it also makes you strive that little bit more for the win when you've got a recent victory in the bag.

"So I've got nothing to lose and that's how I am going to approach the final round."

Larrazabal also is a two-time Tour winner but the 30-year old Barcelona-born player's last success was two years ago in the BMW International Open in Munich.

"I had a lovely day in the office today with the Irish crowds truly awesome," he said.

"I'm playing good. I didn't play as good the last three months, so I feel I am hitting the ball good and will now fight for the tournament. I hope tomorrow I can hit the ball as good as these three days and hole as many putts."

England's Robert Rock (71) is in third place on 10-under par and still within sight of making amends to losing out in a play-off for the 2009 Irish Open.

Two players, England's Paul Casey (67) and rookie Scotland-born Scott Henry (69) are tied in fourth place on nine under par.

Six players share sixth place on eight under par including former Irish Open winner, Jose Maria Olazabal (71) who is looking to end an eight year Tour victory drought.

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