Thomas Pieters admitted making his debut at the WGC-Dell Match Play Championship this week had lost significance since he heard about the terrible bombings in his home country on Tuesday.
The 24 year old first heard news of the Brussels explosions when he awoke in Austin to numerous messages on his mobile phone.
He quickly contacted his family, who were at home in Antwerp, and was relieved to discover that none of his relatives or close friends had been caught up in the attacks at the airport and metro station.
“My phone was buzzing at 6am,” Pieters told members of the media gathered at Austin Country Club. “Everybody was asking if my family were okay. I opened up a news website and it was just one of the worst days to wake up to.
“I turned on the news channel, then we had breakfast and talked a bit, then I came to the course late morning. I’m still checking my phone every five minutes to see if there are any new articles.
“What happened in Paris last year was close, but it’s not right near your people like this. It has happened somewhere I go almost every time I fly out. That’s where I go all the time, and it’s shocking to see the images and videos. It’s a sad day.”
Pieters made sure of his place in the field for the season’s second WGC event by finishing third in Thailand a fortnight ago, and he has been drawn in a group containing Adam Scott, Bill Haas and Chris Wood.
All my thoughts to my people back home who got hit by this tragedy.— Thomas Pieters (@Thomas_Pieters) 22 March 2016
However, the tournament has been put in perspective for the two-time European Tour winner, who said: “It’s just golf, isn’t it? It’s just a job. I’m not going to moan this week, that’s for sure.
“I’ll be thinking a lot about people back home and trying to show my support.”
Asked how it might change how he goes about his life, Pieters replied: “You can’t live with fear, that’s what they’re trying to do. They try to make you feel unsafe and instil fear.
“If you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time, then those guys win, but I don’t think you should change the way you travel or change the way I fly or anywhere I go. I can’t do anything about it so I’m not going to change my lifestyle.
“It’s just tough to understand. I don’t get it. So many innocent people.”
Pieters was not the only player sharing his thoughts for the people of Brussels. Many took to social media to share their support.
Very sad to see what's happening in Brussels. Thoughts and prayers to all.#thisneedstostop— Branden Grace (@BrandenGrace) 22 March 2016
What a sad World we live in...! Thoughts are with everyone involved and the People of Belgium! This has to stop now! #Brussels— Bernd Wiesberger (@BWiesberger) 22 March 2016
Peace for all... pic.twitter.com/IbJtoU3CRj— Pablo Larrazabal (@plarrazabal) 22 March 2016