Wednesday, 16 May 2018
Thomas Pieters celebrates winning the 2015 Czech Masters with his family  (Getty Images)
Thomas Pieters celebrates winning the 2015 Czech Masters with his family (Getty Images)

From the moment he announced himself on the European stage in 2015, Thomas Pieters' career has gone from strength to strength.

His maiden victory at the 2015 D+D REAL Czech Masters earmarked the Belgian as a player with a promising future, however it was the follow up on that showing of potential in Prague just two weeks later at the KLM Open that confirmed what many suspected.

Those moments have formed the foundation for a burgeoning career, which continues with another landmark moment this week as Pieters hosts the Belgian Knockout, an innovative event which includes a weekend of medal match play. 

Ahead of the European Tour returning to Belgium for the first time in 18 years, we take a closer look at six of the standout moments from Pierers' career.

1) Contender v pretender

Followers' of the European golf scene would have been well versed in the qualities of Pieters long before his breakout win in the Czech Republic. One year earlier, the then 22 years old Pieters led heading into the final round of the Open de España. The Belgian's final round 75 saw him slip into a play-off with Miguel Angel Jiménez and Richard Green, with the veteran Spaniard coming out on top in the first extra hole.

In the wake of his runner-up spot at PGA Catalunya Resort, Pieters said, "I made some mistakes, but I have to learn from them." The following four years suggests he did just that. And how.

2) First win? Czech

One of the most touching moments on the European Tour in recent memory came at Albatross Golf Resort in 2015. After winning his first title at the D+D REAL Czech Masters, Pieters was greeted by his family, who had made the journey from Belgium overnight. That Sunday was notable not just for his heartfelt reaction to seeing his family; it also proved Pieters had the steel to get over the line in a way he hadn't done in Spain the previous year.

Victory made him the third Belgian to win on the European Tour, after Philippe Toussaint and Nicolas Colsaerts, as well as the youngest winner to hail from Belgium at 23 years and 215 days. As the next three years has proved, Pieters has somewhat of a penchant for setting records.

3) Two in a row

When you become the first man to achieve a feat since Rory McIlroy, you must be doing something right. Pieters' back-to-back wins in the summer of 2015 ensured he became the first player to win consecutive starts on tour since McIlroy in 2014 (WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and US PGA Championship). After taking a week off in the aftermath of his win in the Czech Republic, Pieters teed it up at the KLM Open, taking no time at all to establish his intentions for the week.

After opening rounds of 68 and 66, Pieters fired a 62 on Moving Day, but still found himself two behind leaders Rafa Cabrera Bello and Lee Slattery. A final round of 65 proved enough to secure a historic second win in three weeks and propel him inside the top 100 in the Official World Golf Ranking for the first time in his career. The best, though, was arguably yet to come.

4) Olympian

After an absence of 112 years, golf returned to the Olympic Games in 2016 and Pieters was one of three Belgians to make history for the nation by appearing in the 72-hole stroke play event, alongside two-time European Tour winner Colsaerts and Chloe Leurquin.

The week wasn't just about national pride on the international stage, however, as Pieters finished in an impressive fourth place behind medallists Justin Rose, Henrik Stenson and Matt Kuchar. Afterwards, he said it was the "best experience of my life so far."

5) Record-breaking rookie

Team Europe may have suffered defeat at the hands of Davis Love III's United States in Hazeltine two years ago, but there was no doubting who had been the visitors' shining light. Pieters excelled on his Ryder Cup debut, winning four of his matches to become the most successful European rookie in the history of the event.

His partnership with McIlroy proved formidable and the duo won all three of their matches, including a 4 and 2 win over Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler. Such was the impression Pieters made on McIlroy that the four-time Major winner said, "I've got a partner beside me for the next 20 years, I'm not letting anyone else have him."

​6) Augusta debut

It's no easy task to drink in the surroundings of Augusta National and still compete on your first appearance at The Masters. Pieters' performance in 2017, however, has been one of the most convincing debuts in recent memory. Seemingly immune to the distractions posed by the hallowed course, the Belgian finished just four off the pace and shared fourth spot with Kuchar. 

The ease with which Pieters took to Augusta suggests this could be a course at which he excels in years to come. Although he missed the cut earlier this year, the fact he performed so promisingly on his debut means he could be forgiven for realistically earmarking a future Green Jacket.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1CAMPILLO, JorgeESP18 -8
2HEATH, JamesENG18 -7
T3DETRY, ThomasBEL18 -6
T3PEREZ, VictorFRA18 -6
T3PAPADATOS, DimitriosAUS18 -6

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