European Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley gave a glowing assessment of the potential of Joost Luiten when he said, “I love this guy’s game and I’ll be very surprised if he doesn’t become a mainstay of the Europe team. Joost has all the attributes.”
McGinley came very close to picking the Dutchman for this year’s Ryder Cup at Gleneagles, and while Luiten missed out there, it does nothing to detract from what has been another impressive season for him.
A win in the Wales Open as well as seven top-10 finishes on the European Tour have made for one of his most successful seasons to date.
“He is a world-class player. He’s quality,” said Graeme McDowell after Luiten beat him in the Volvo World Match Play on his way to finishing third there.
But he remains one of the most humble professionals on tour. He readily admits that he would probably go unnoticed on the streets of his hometown and not be swamped as the more popular Dutch footballers are. And he’s unfailingly polite, event when his name is pronounced incorrectly, and not as “Yost”.
It was thanks to a ski jumping accident that Luiten found his way to golf. At the age of 10 he fractured his elbow and nose and bruised his knee in one of his jumps. And that’s when his father Nico decided to call time on this side of Luiten’s sporting interests.
A year earlier, his uncle Wim had already started taking him to a driving range in Rotterdam and introducing him to the game golf. So instead of throwing himself off ski ramps, he decided to throw himself into golf.
Luiten’s competitive nature was already legendary amongst his childhood friends, and golf became the perfect outlet for this.
As an amateur he went on to win the Dutch National Open in 2004, the German and Spanish Amateur Open titles in 2005, and helped the Dutch team to a surprise victory in the 2006 Eisenhower Trophy when he played his final five holes in six under par.
Turning professional in 2006, Luiten started his career on the European Challenge Tour and made an immediate impact when he won two of his first six tournaments, including a final round of 11-under-par 61 in the Vodafone Challenge.
Luiten graduated to the European Tour in 2008, but suffered a wrist injury that kept him out of the game for over a year.
His breakthrough came in 2011 when he won the Iskandar Johor Open. He won twice in 2013, including the KLM Open where he became the first Dutch winner in 10 years and where he beat the experienced Thomas Bjørn. That same year he beat another European Tour legend in Miguel Angel Jiminez to win the Lyoness Open.
This made him only the second Dutch golfer to win multiple titles on the European Tour, following Robert-Jan Derksen.
Then in September this year, Luiten claimed his fourth European Tour title with a victory in the ISPS Handa Wales Open. He did so despite making bogeys on his opening two holes in the final round to immediately wipe out his two-stroke lead. But he birdied the 15th to take a one-stroke lead, which he held onto for the win.
Luiten became the first Dutch winner of the Wales Open, and it also marked the first time in his career that he has won in consecutive seasons on the European Tour.