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Big back nine gives Luiten lead at Wales Open



City of Newport, Wales (SportsNetwork.com) - Joost Luiten surged up the leaderboard on the back nine Thursday to take the outright lead after one round of the Wales Open.

Luiten, who has not won on tour since winning twice last year at the Lyoness Open and the KLM Open, finished the first day at 6-under-par 65, one shot ahead of Nicolas Colsaerts and Andrew McArthur. Luiten is a three-time winner on the European Tour.

Colsaerts held the lead when the morning wave was completed before McArthur joined him at 5-under 66 later in the day at The Celtic Manor Resort.

Justin Walters, Robert Rock and Sam Walker shot matching 4-under 67s, tying them for fourth after one round, while 10 players share seventh at minus-3.

Defending champion Gregory Bourdy stumbled to a 3-over 74 on Thursday and he is tied for 104th with 15 others.

Luiten was very quiet at the start of his round as he rattled off eight straight pars from the first. He broke through with his first birdie of the day on No. 9 and Luiten made the turn at minus-1.

The back nine is where Luiten made his charge. After a par on the 10th, Luiten poured in back-to-back birdies on 11 and 12 to get to 3-under. Another par on the par-3 13th preceded three straight gains from No. 14 and Luiten had the lead at minus-6.

Luiten fell back into a tie for first with Colsaerts at minus-5 after a bogey on the 17th, but Luiten's seventh birdie at the par-5 18th put him back into the lead at the end of one round.

Luiten finished tied for fifth at last week's KLM Open, where he was attempting to repeat as champion.

"It's nice and quiet this week here," said Luiten. "My game felt good last week and I played good again today. Hopefully can keep it going for three more. Fifth place was good, but of course you want more. Every player wants more. Fifth place in your own event is good and you take that form to this week, and I just felt very, very good out there."

Colsaerts, beginning his day on the back nine, started with four straight pars before dropping a shot on the par-4 14th. He got that shot back with a birdie on No. 16, but another bogey at the 17th had Colsaerts over par again.

The momentum shifted for Colsaerts when he bombed a 447-yard drive on the par-5 18th, leading to an eagle and getting him into red numbers for the first time.

"I thought it was too far right, but it's all downhill and downwind and it must have luged down the fairway," Colsaerts said about his mammoth drive. "If all the stars align, you can hit it a long way."

Colsaerts drained back-to-back birdies on one and two as he made the turn, putting him at 3-under. Two more gains on five and seven were followed by two pars to close Colsaerts' round at 5-under, one shot back of the lead.

McArthur bogeyed his second hole of the day, but he was strong from there. McArthur responded with a pair of birdies from three and four to go along with another one at the seventh. After making the turn with three pars at eight, nine and 10, McArthur drained birdies on 11, 12 and 15 to join Colsaerts in second.

NOTES: Luiten's other victory came at the 2011 Johor Open ... Colsaerts' 447- yard drive on No. 18 was the longest drive in European Tour history ... The only player to shoot a bogey-free round on Thursday was Eddie Pepperell (3- under 68), who surrounded 16 pars with a birdie at the sixth and an eagle at the last ... Colsaerts has won twice on the European Tour ... McArthur has yet to earn a victory on tour.

09/18 15:06:18 ET


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