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DOING JOOST FINE: Joost Luiten (YOST LAU-ton) had PGA Championship officials scrambling for the record books with four holes to go until nerves did in the 26-year-old European Tour player.

Luiten was at 8-under par through 14 holes in Thursday’s first round at The Ocean Course and looked ready to challenge the low round in majors history of 63. But Luiten closed with four straight birdies to finish with a 68 _ leaving him two shots behind leader Carl Pettersson.

“I mean, I played really well and then to finish the round with straight bogeys is not a good feeling,” Luiten said. “But it has been a good experience and I just have to take that into the next rounds.”

Luiten took up golf and ski jumping when he was 9 years old in his native Netherlands. Then a year later, Luiten fractured his elbow nose and bruised a knee in a ski-jumping accident so golf became his sport. He says he wears gloves on both hands _ think Tommy “Two Gloves” Gainey _ when it’s hot to help with grip. And he’s enjoying his first PGA Championship.

On Wednesday, Luiten sent a picture on Twitter of an alligator patrolling the pond on the par-3 17th. A short time later, he Tweeted a photo of three deer, saying if the gator “had enough of all the balls, there’s plenty of other food for him to eat” with the hashtag, “alligatorvsdeer.”

Luiten started his round on the back nine and had three birdies and an eagle for a sizzling 31. He kept things going with birdies on the second, fourth and fifth holes to move to 8-under par with plenty of birdies holes left. Instead, Luiten’s began a run of mistakes. He said he was too aggressive on birdie tries on the sixth and seventh holes, both which led to bogeys. Luiten hit irons in the wrong spots, he said, on the eighth and ninth holes for two more dropped shots.

Still, Luiten’s happy with performance and ready to build on it in Friday’s second round. “It was a great feeling to be out there with the crowds cheering me on and playing so well in a major,” he said.


ALTERNATE PLAY: Ben Crane helped another alternate play a major for the first time.

Crane was the first reserve player at the British Open, but a larger-than-normal field meant two players would have to withdraw before a spot opened up. Crane decided to wait it out at his home in Oregon and had no time to make it to Royal Lytham & St. Annes in time, giving Michael Thompson the chance to play the British for the first time.

At the PGA Championship, Crane had to withdraw with a bad back, opening the way for Chris Stroud to compete at this tournament for the first time.

Stroud is friends with Crane and knew of his buddy’s injuries and kept preparing for the tournament. Crane finally made it official on Wednesday.

“He definitely waited a little longer than I expected,” Stroud said. “But I’m sure everybody else would’ve done that.”

Thompson missed the cut at the British after rounds of 74-73. Stroud opened the PGA Championship with a 73, seven shots behind leader Carl Pettersson.


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