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Pieters boxing clever ahead of Belgian Knockout

May 16, 2018

Tournament host Thomas Pieters is relishing the opportunity to play a European Tour event in front of home crowds for the first time in his career at this week’s innovative Belgian Knockout, as the tour returns to the Ryder Cup star's native country after an 18-year hiatus.

“It’s just nice to see people here in Belgium supporting us. I’ve seen that the ticket sales have gone up with the good weather forecast and I get goosebumps because when I started playing golf, the sport was so small here in Belgium."

“But it’s grown so much in the last few years, I think because of Nicolas (Colsaerts). He sparked the whole thing in Belgium, being the first ever to play in The Ryder Cup. And then I followed four years later. And now Detry is here on the European Tour and it’s pretty cool, it’s a good time for Belgian golf.

It will be another ground-breaking week for innovation on the European Tour too, as the tournament incorporates 36 holes of regular stroke play before 64 players progress to a weekend of nine-hole knockout matches, also with a stroke play format – meaning every match will go to the final hole.

Pieters boxing clever ahead of Belgian Knockout, © Getty Images

It was an event born of a conversation between Pieters and his family two years ago following his Ryder Cup debut, and the 26 year old’s family and their production company – Pieters Productions – have organised and promoted the whole event. The three-time European Tour winner, however, has taken a back seat in order to work on his game and give himself the best chance of a glorious home victory.

“I’m extremely proud to host this event. To have played a Ryder Cup, my family and I thought after I played and Nico played in one, it’s time to have a tournament in Belgium again. To see it now after two years of preparation, it’s pretty cool."

“I haven’t seen them in a couple of weeks now because they’ve been working non-stop – I don’t think they’ve slept in two weeks! And I walked through the caddie lounge and they are really appreciative of the food there, and it’s those small things that we wanted to get right. I wanted to get all of the things I like about other tournaments and implement them here.

“I think it’s important for players to host tournaments because this is my home course, Rory’s was a big success when he hosts in Ireland. It brings a bit of pressure with it but it’s good pressure and I like it, I’m trying to embrace it.

Nicolas Colsaerts and Thomas Detry are among the other home favourites hoping to delight the Belgian crowds at Rinkven International Golf Clubs this week, while former European Tour Number One Robert Karlsson is the closest thing to a defending champion having won the Belgian Open back in 1999.

“It’s amazing. I’ve been playing golf around Belgium over the last few weeks and everybody is talking about it, everyone’s really excited. The last time we had an actual Belgian Open was in 2000 when Westwood won it so it’s always been a big event, and that was missing in Belgium lately.

“Now we have a Challenge Tour event and a European Tour event and it’s fantastic. The venue is amazing, the golf course is great and we have the weather on our side too so I think it’s going to be a very very good week." - Thomas Detry

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