A little more than four years ago Thomas Pieters was still an amateur, next season he will host his own tournament on the European Tour.
The Belgian Knockout will take place at Rinkven International in Antwerp from May 17-20 and will involve a matchplay twist over the weekend. The date is an interesting one given it is likely to fall the week before the PGA at Wentworth.
The first two rounds will be your standard Thursday-Friday format, strokeplay for 36 holes, before the weekend gives way to 64 hopefuls playing nine-hole matches ahead of determining the winner.
On paper it looks great. It involves matchplay which, as we all know, there is a lack of on any tour, it involves a format which is actually easy to understand and one which will bring fairly immediate results and it will be played at a time of year where the weather might be a positive rather than a negative.
— Thomas Pieters (@Thomas_Pieters) September 25, 2017
The European Tour hasn’t visited Belgium for 18 years – the last time their national Open was played Lee Westwood, who partnered Pieters at last year’s Ryder Cup in the opening session, was the winner.
Pieters’ matchplay credentials are a good tie in with the new tournament given that he won his next four matches, three of them with Rory McIlroy, after the loss alongside Westwood.
“We are going to see an innovative new format and it will make it really exciting for people who come along to watch and also for people watching it at home on TV,” the 25-year-old said.
“It means the world to Belgium to have another European Tour event. We’ve had a decent increase in interest in golf in the last few years with Nico’s (Colsaerts) Ryder Cup, my Ryder Cup and the Olympics helping, so we thought it was time to get our own tournament back.
“It is a big role for my family, with my sister (who also manages Pieters) and brother-in-law promoting the tournament. I’m obviously closely involved with it too, which is a different challenge for me, but hopefully it is going to be very satisfying when the tournament starts.”