Pieters let down by putter, still in Ryder Cup contention at Czech Masters

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Pieters let down by putter, still in Ryder Cup contention at Czech Masters

Euro Tour

Pieters let down by putter, still in Ryder Cup contention at Czech Masters

The shortest club in the bag potentially stands between Thomas Pieters and a place on this year’s European Ryder Cup team. The Belgian needs his putter to get hot if he’s to make a strong case for one of European captain Thomas Bjorn’s four wild card picks.

Pieters is two shots off Gavin Green’s lead after 36 holes of the $1.15 million D+D Real Czech Masters in Prague. He is joint third on 10 under after a 2-under 70. He might be tied with the former University of New Mexico All-American if his putter had behaved better.

“I didn’t make enough putts today,” Pieters said. “It was still a decent day even though I made two bogeys. It was a disappointing finish missing two short ones coming in. Overall, I’m not unhappy with the position I’m in.

“I’ve been striking it really well, it’s just the putting that has let me down, so I need a good putting week.”

Pieters cannot make the European team automatically. He’s relying on one of Bjorn’s four picks to make his second Ryder Cup appearance following an impressive 4-1 performance at Hazeltine two years ago.

He’s in the perfect place to impress Bjorn. The 26-year-old won the 2015 Czech Masters, the first of his three European Tour wins.

European Ryder Cup vice-captain Padraig Harrington shares third place with Pieters, one of his two playing companions over the first two days along with Paul Waring.

“Thomas has played very nicely,” Harrington said. “Obviously on the last couple of holes he dropped a shot and he could have put himself out at 12 or 13 under par, but he’s in a good position for the weekend.”

Green, an eight-time winner at New Mexico, returned a 68 to reach 12 under and has a one-shot lead over Denmark’s Jeff Winther. The Malaysian is in his rookie year on the European Tour, looking to keep his playing rights for next year. A win will do that, while a good performance will boost his current ranking of 99th on the order of merit, with the top 110 at the end of the season keeping their cards.

Joint overnight leader John Daly returned a 75 to drop 35 places to T-36.

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