Thomas Pieters of Belgium holds the cup after winning the Dutch Open at the Kennemer Golf & Country Club in Zandvoort. (AFP)
Belgian youngster Thomas Pieters fired a five-under 65 to win the Dutch Open by one stroke yesterday just two weeks after winning his maiden EPGA tournament at the Czech Masters. The 23-year-old, from Antwerp, becomes the first player since Rory McIlroy to win back-to-back EPGA starts after Englishman Lee Slattery blew a chance to send the championship to a playoff after missing a six-foot putt at the 18th.
Pieters finished with a winning score of 19-under par at the Kennemer Golf and Country Club in northern Holland. Spaniard Eduardo De La Riva shot the day’s joint-best score of 63 to share second spot with Slattery who was devastated after his final hole miss that ruined his chances of following on from his triumph at last week’s Russian Open.
“I’m a little bit surprised because I was getting ready for the playoff,” said the big-hitting Pieters. “Lee (Slattery) played really well but this victory is even cooler than the first one and now I want number three.
“I was confident and just tried to tee it up. I missed a putt at the first hole and was a bit nervous, but I then made a couple of birdies and felt good after that. Now I’m going to go and celebrate with my family.” he added.
Paraguayan Fabrizio Zanotti was alone in fourth after his 63 lifted him up the leaderboard while Englishman Eddie Pepperell and Denmark’s Morten Orum Madsen were a further shot back on 16-under.
Spaniard Rafa Cabrella-Bello, who shared the overnight lead with Slattery, slumped to a final day 71 and a share of seventh place, while Scotland’s 1999 British Open champion Paul Lawrie, who began the day one shot off the lead, also misfired with his 71 and finished tenth.
Lee holds fast to triumph in Korea Open
South Korean Lee Kyung-Hoon carded a nerveless, five-under final round of 66 to take the Kolon Korea Open title yesterday, four shots clear of his nearest rival.
The 24-year-old started the day with a two-stroke lead at the top of the leader-board and never looked like relinquishing his position, making an eagle at the fifth and then birdying holes seven, eight and nine. “I am proud of the way I handled the pressure. Four shots is a nice margin but it was all much closer than that,” Lee said.
Compatriot Kim Meen-Whee also carded a 66 to move up into second position four shots behind Lee. Two other Koreans, Wang Jeung-Hun and Lee Dong-Min, tied for third place three shots back.
“It is an incredible feeling,” Lee said of his victory—only his second as a professional. “I have been playing well recently and could not have found a better time to find my form. The Korea Open is our biggest event and it is a great honour to win,” Lee said.
Australian Steven Jeffress, the first and second round leader, and Korean Moon Kyong-Jun finished equal fifth after rounds of 72 and 69 respectively.
Korean star Kim Kyung-Tae, one of the pre-tournament favourites after his victory in last weekend’s Fujisankei Classic, returned a 71 to end up tied in 14th place. Kim Meen-Whee, a gold medal winner at the 2010 Asian Games, said he was happy with his runner-up spot. “I will take a lot of confidence from this. Lee was always a bit too far ahead so finishing second here was a great result,” the 23-year-old said.
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