Thomas Pieters closer to long-sought success with Super 6 Perth lead

PERTH, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 15: Thomas Pieters of Belgium plays reads the 14th green during Day 2 of the ISPS Handa World Super 6 Perth at Lake Karrinyup Country Club on February 15, 2019 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images) Paul Kane/Getty Images

Thomas Pieters closer to long-sought success with Super 6 Perth lead

PGA Tour

Thomas Pieters closer to long-sought success with Super 6 Perth lead

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Thomas Pieters is tied for the lead in the $1.1 million ISPS Handa World Super 6 Perth. There was a time not too long ago when that sentence seemed improbable.

Pieters moved into a tie for the lead with 6-under-par 66 around Lake Karrinyup Country Club in Perth, Western Australia. He stands at 8-under with New Zealanders Ryan Fox and Matthew Griffin, and Thailand’s Panuphol Pittayarat.

Quite why Pieters is chasing his fourth European Tour win in a bottom of the food-chain tournament is something of a mystery. The 27-year-old Belgian offers a seminal lesson that nothing can be taken for granted in this frustrating game.

The long-hitting Antwerp resident once seemed destined for major success. His three wins came in a two-year spell between 2015 and 2016. He used those victories – the 2015 D+D Real Czech Masters, KLM Open and 2016 Made in Denmark tournament – as a platform for his Ryder Cup debut.

Pieters was impressive in the 2017 Ryder Cup at Hazeltine, winning four matches out of five in Europe’s 17-11 loss. He might have gone five out of five if not for getting stuck with an out-of-form Lee Westwood in the opening foursomes.

It came as no surprise that Pieters reached 23rd on the Official World Golf Ranking in August 2017, but then that was to be expected from an NCAA Champion. The Illinois player won the 2012 individual title by three shots over a field that included Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth and Patrick Cantlay.

While Thomas and Spieth have already won majors, Pieters is still waiting for his breakthrough. His best finish in the blue-chip events is T4 in the 2017 Masters. He also finished T6 in last year’s PGA Championship.

You have to go to 79th on the OWGR to find Pieters’ name. His status outside the top 50 only makes it harder for him to participate in the majors, never mind contend for them.

Pieters is yet another Belgian to shine in the Ryder Cup only for his star to fizzle out afterwards. Compatriot Nicolas Colsaerts excelled in the 2012 match and has struggled to come close to that form ever since.

Of course, there’s still time for Pieters; he’s got youth on his side.

It’s a credit to Pieters that he’s travelled Down Under to try to get his game in shape in an attempt to make 2019 a bounce-back year.

“I’m playing decent golf, hitting the ball quite nice, I just haven’t really put four really good rounds together,” Pieters said. “Like the last three tournaments I’ve played, I’ve played three really good rounds and one average, one bad one if you look at it.

“So it’s just a matter of time, I think. I’m quite positive about the next few months.”

Victory in the Perth would be a good start to working his way back up the world order where many feel he belongs.

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