He has already received a playing card for the PGA Tour. Joost Luyten (37 years old), the best Dutch golfer in years, ranked tenth on the updated list of the European Tour, a classification that entitles him to play in the United States at the end of the season. However, two games before the final score was set, the six-time tournament winner dropped out due to a poor performance at the Andalusia Spanish Masters.
There is a lot of pressure to get a place in the top ten. “I think there are about seven of us competing for three or four places, it’s very close together. This is our sport, this is golf. The margins are small, the competition is fierce,” Luyten says two days before the Nedbank Golf Challenge begins in South Africa. “It is the penultimate match of the year, and the final tournament will be held in Dubai a week later.
Breathe down the neck
The pressure on Luyten increases, as a group of attackers breathe down his neck. The two-time KLM Open winner is used to it. “I’m not interested in other players at all, I’m focused on my own game. Only when the tournament is over do I look at what the competition has done. This competition consists of guys like Jorge Campello (Spain), Thorbjörn Olesen (Denmark) and Japan’s Ryo Hisatsune.
In theory, a good result in Sun City or Dubai should be enough to earn a PGA Tour card. Confidence is rising for Luyten, who has previously finished second once this season and third three times. “Playing on the PGA Tour will be a big boost, especially considering where I’m coming from. A year ago I was still wavering between quitting and continuing, and now here I am. Sometimes I have to remind myself of that.”
Back to the PGA Tour
“Golf depression” has kept him off the course for more than three months, but back on the course, a healed and revitalized Luyten may be playing better than ever. “We are waiting for the first victory, which will surely come.” Returning to American competition is an added bonus. He debuted there in 2015, but did not have much success. Luyten then lived in the United States for five months. “I didn’t like it when I was alone in the hotel. If I beat a card, I certainly wouldn’t do it that way again.
Luyten has one more reason not to settle in the United States for a longer period of time: He and his wife, Melanie, hope to become parents for the first time next month. “I’m used to travelling. When I go to Asia for the European Tour during the first three months of the season, I’m often there for periods of two to three weeks, with a week at home. Then it’s nice to unplug for a while “Instead of sitting there alone and watching the walls close in on you.”
He’s not the only young father on tour. And the experiences of others show that fatherhood doesn’t have to get in the way of playing golf. “Actually, I talk to a lot of kids who started playing better because there was some pressure from golf,” Luyten says. They’re a bit more open on the field and can put things right. Of course they are disappointed after a bad tournament, but when they see that little boy at home, they immediately forget that result. That’s nice too, isn’t it?
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