Luiten shares lead in Muscat after 3rd-round 66
MUSCAT, Oman (AP) — Joost Luiten showed a return to form after a mediocre 2017 as he moved into a three-way tie for the lead in the Oman Open on Saturday.
The Dutchman shot a second straight 6-under 66 — the joint best score of the day — to move to 12-under 204. He was joined at the top by Matthew Southgate (69) and Frenchman Julien Guerrier (66) after the third round at the Greg Norman-designed Al Mouj Golf Club.
England’s Chris Wood (69), another man on the comeback trail, was in fourth place at 11 under, but it could have been a lot better if not for a bogey-bogey finish. Adrian Otaegui (66) was a shot behind Wood while pre-tournament favorite, France’s Alexander Levy (67), was at 9 under.
The 90th-ranked Luiten credited some hot iron play for his success after a cracked driver set him back last year when he had just two top-10 finishes the whole season.
“I cracked my driver in my first tournament of the year in Abu Dhabi and it took me almost six months to get another one that I really liked. Once you are not driving the ball well, it puts pressure on other parts of your game,” said the 32-year-old Luiten. “My iron play did not get me into trouble at all today.”
Southgate was quick off the block with three birdies in his first three holes. But the Englishman then made two bogeys and a double bogey in his next four holes, and a birdie on the ninth saw him make the turn at even-par.
That forced him to think differently for the back nine and he was rewarded with three birdies.
“It was quite funny really,” Southgate said. “We birdied the ninth and I walked off and said to my caddie Gary ... ‘We’ve just shot level par, so let’s just pretend that we’ve made nine solid pars and that we haven’t holed a putt and haven’t made a birdie. Let’s just start again on the 10th’.”
The 32-year-old Guerrier started his round with a monster 48-foot birdie putt and had an eagle, six birdies and two bogeys.