Belgian professional Christopher Mivis grew up playing at Millennium Golf, host venue for this week’s KPMG Trophy. We caught up with the 30-year-old as he prepares for a rare chance to play, and stay, at home.
A Challenge Tour event in your home country, are you looking forward to this week?
Absolutely. It’s always nice to play an event in Belgium. I can stay at home this week and sleep in my own bed, so that’s always an advantage. You can see your family and they can see you on the course. I know the course quite well because I’ve been a member here before, so it’s great to play here and only be 15 minutes away from home.
Do you have any memories from your time playing at Millennium Golf as a member?
I’ve played here so many times with Thomas Pieters because he is a member here as well. We grew up together, we played here a lot and have just a ton of really good memories. The course has also improved a lot over the years. They’re doing a really good job with this place and the greens just keep getting better and better.
Sounds like you’ve got some inside knowledge, what are the keys to playing this course?
It’s really straight forward. I think a lot of guys are going to try to be really aggressive and that can be penalised out here. Because of the heat the rough isn’t as thick as it normally is so we won’t be as penalised for missing the fairway as we normally would be, but for example the eighth hole is a par four over the water and about a 255 yard carry to get over the water. You can hit it on the green, but if you miss it then you have to re-tee it. The greens can be quite tricky when they’re fast because there are big slopes and a lot of run-offs.
Your game seems to be right there with some good results, but you admit the past year has been very tough.
My game has been good for the last three years, especially 2017, but 2018 was very difficult because I lost my Mum. I didn’t play for three months at the end of the season and I ended up not playing enough on the Challenge Tour or the European Tour to keep a good category. I’m depending a little bit on invitations as well, and when you don’t take an invitation and you end up getting into the event, you usually find out pretty late. That makes it a bit tricky to travel and make arrangements.
But to be honest, I’ve played some really good golf so far this year. Just the mental side isn’t great. Sometimes my head is still in spaces where it should not be when you’re playing competitive golf. I believe that your personal life is more important than this game but sometimes it takes you into a position that you don’t want to be in when you’re playing and it can make it harder when it’s already hard enough.
But in the last few weeks the mental part of my golf has definitely been improving. Just seeing the results, like two weeks ago in Northern Ireland I played really solid. It felt easier and better than before. I didn’t make as many mistakes. This year I’ve just been making too many mistakes—too many bogeys—and on the Challenge Tour you get penalised straight away when you make bogeys.
Have there been any fellow players on the Challenge Tour who have helped you through such a difficult time?
I had a lot of support from another Belgian player Hugues Joannes. We travel all the time together, so that was really nice. A few of the Dutch guys I have a good relationship with and a few of the French guys as well, because being Belgian I also speak French and that always makes it easier when you speak the language.
We’re not usually talking too much about the personal stuff, only sometimes when it comes up, but most of the time we just try to enjoy each other’s company and enjoy life on Tour and try to have some fun.
Sometimes, like this week, my brother caddies for me, and that’s really nice to have some family around.
Will you have some family and friends coming out to watch you?
Oh yeah. There are going to be a lot of them this week I think. Family, some sponsors, friends and all that, which is really nice.