Thomas Pieters co-leads at Czech Masters as he seeks Ryder Cup spot

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Thomas Pieters co-leads at Czech Masters as he seeks Ryder Cup spot

Euro Tour

Thomas Pieters co-leads at Czech Masters as he seeks Ryder Cup spot

Thomas Pieters can probably secure his second Ryder Cup appearance with three more good rounds in the $1.15 million D+D Real Czech Masters.

The Belgian returned an 8-under 64 to share the lead with John Daly, England’s Callum Tarren and Gavin Green of Malaysia.

Pieters had no bogeys on his card, recording four bogeys on each nine to reach the top of the leaderboard.

The 26-year-old Belgian can’t qualify for the European team automatically, but he can make a strong case for one of the four wild card picks. A Pieters win will make his chances of a pick from European captain Thomas Bjorn more likely.

Pieters couldn’t have selected a better place to impress the Ryder Cup captain. He earned his maiden European Tour win in 2015 in the D+D Real Czech Masters over the same Albatross Golf Resort in Prague this year’s tournament is being staged on.

Bjorn isn’t playing in the Czech Republic, but European Ryder Cup vice-captain Padraig Harrington is. The Dubliner had a ringside seat in Pieters’ opening round. Harrington is playing the first two rounds with the Belgian, along with last week’s Nordea Masters winner Paul Waring.

Harrington will be able to give Bjorn a detailed analysis of Pieters’ current form.

Bjorn has said from the moment he took over as captain that he wants players running into form in the build-up to the match in Paris.

“Form is something that you can’t really shy away from,” he said during the French Open.

With a T-6 finish in the recent PGA Championship, Pieters is clearly playing well.

The three-time European Tour winner is currently vying for a place in the European side along with possible picks Ian Poulter, Paul Casey, Henrik Stenson, Rafa Cabrera Bello, Sergio Garcia, Russell Knox and Eddie Pepperell. Poulter, Casey and Stenson are considered locks, leaving just one pick from the remaining four players.

Garcia is not in good form and should miss. With five rookies already on the European team, Bjorn is unlikely to add another in the shape of Knox or Pepperell. It realistically means Pieters is battling Cabrera Bello for the last pick as things stand.

The Spaniard has had a steadier season than Pieters, and put in an impressive performance at Hazeltine two years ago, winning two and a half points out of three. Pieters was even better, going 4-1.

The next three days will decide if Pieters is on the plane to Paris.

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