Thomas Pieters will do more than just hand out the trophy in this week’s $1.2 million Belgian Knockout. The Ryder cup star might just pick it up himself.
A second round 4-under-par 67 ensured that Pieters, the tournament host, made the cut to qualify for the head-to-head knockout stroke play matches over nine holes. An opening 73 put some pressure on the 26-year-old Pieters, but he moved up 60 places to finish T-24 after two rounds.
Despite his horrendous opening round, the three-time European Tour winner Pieters didn’t feel pressure in round two thanks to a simple mind set.
“Just be patient and hope those putts will drop and a couple did, which was really nice because I haven’t made many in a long time,” Pieters said.
“I was hitting it well so it was just the putting. If I’m hitting it off line then I’ve got to worry, especially around this course. I didn’t worry. I hit it well again today. I just made three or four more putts and that’s the difference.”
Pieters dropped a shot on his opening hole (No. 10) but still rallied.
“It wasn’t a quick start,” he said. “I bogeyed my first hole and all of a sudden you’re three over. So I had to make something happen.”
He did. He made seven birdies. He’d love that form for the knockout matches.
“If I can do seven in nine holes I’ll be fine. Everybody that makes the cut will have a chance and that makes it exciting, and that’s why we choose the format.”
Pieters is one of four home players into the final two rounds at Rinkven International Golf Club in Antwerp. Former Illinois player Thomas Detry placed joint third on 6 under par, Nicolas Colsaerts was equal 18th, while Christopher Mivis finished joint 31st alongside former Florida standout Sam Horsfield.
Spain’s Jorge Campillo finished first seed on 8 under. The 31-year-old has three runner-up finishes in six full European Tour seasons, but hasn’t managed to win. Former Augusta State player James Heath finished second seed on 7 under.
British bookmakers Ladbrokes has Campillo as the 14/1 favourite. Pieters and Detry are listed at 16-1 odds.