Thomas Pieters ends Euro Tour winless streak at Czech Masters

Ian Rutherford/USA TODAY Sports

Thomas Pieters ends Euro Tour winless streak at Czech Masters

Euro Tour

Thomas Pieters ends Euro Tour winless streak at Czech Masters

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Will Thomas Pieters’s first victory in three years propel him back into the game’s elite where many feel he belongs? That might be the most pertinent question after his D+D Real Czech Masters win.

The 27-year-old ended three years of frustration with victory in Prague, his fourth European Tour victory but first since the 2016 Made in Denmark. The Belgian returned a closing 3-under 69 to post a 19-under 269 total for a one-shot victory over Spain’s Adri Arnaus.

Sam Horsfield and defending champion Andrea Pavan finishing joint third on 16 under.

D+D REAL CZECH MASTERS: Final leaderboard

Former University of Illinois player Pieters almost enjoyed home course at the Albatross Golf Course. Pieters, winner of the 2013 NCAA Division 1 individual title, won the 2015 Czech Masters. He finished second a year later. This time around he entered the final round with a one-shot lead over Arnaus, and managed to hang on to it despite the Spaniard applying pressure with two birdies in the last three holes.

“I’m relieved,” Pieters said. “It’s been a long time – it’s been three years since I last won. It feels good to win again. I never doubted myself but it’s just been a long road of not feeling that great with the golf swing. It feels good to get back on track again and get another win.”

Pieters made his Ryder Cup debut in 2016. It was an impressive performance at Hazeltine even though he was on the losing team. He won four points of a possible five, setting a record for most points won by a European rookie.

A year later the Belgian reached a career high of 23rd on the Official World Golf Ranking. Many expected him to earn an automatic spot on last year’s European Ryder Cup team, but he wasn’t even close to joining Thomas Bjorn’s victorious side at Le Golf National.

Pieters arrived in Prague ranked 111th in the world, just trying to get his game back.

“It’s difficult when everybody says you should be winning two or three times a year. It’s always nice to hear that, but it’s almost a negative sometimes because I always felt like I was underachieving. Hopefully there’s many more like this.”

Pieters should move back inside the World Top 100 with this win. He jumped to 42nd on the Race to Dubai.

Padraig Harrington played with Belgian over the first two rounds. The 2020 European Ryder Cup captain will be wondering along with everyone else if he’ll be taking Pieters to Whistling Straits next year.

Harrington might also be wondering if Arnaus will be in his 12-man team. The Texas A&M graduate earned his third second-place finish this season. A victory can’t be far away. He certainly impressed Pieters.

“What a player Adri is,” Pieters said. “To finish like that, stiff it on 16, give himself a chance on 17 and then make birdie on 18, he made it tough on me. Hats off to him and I’m just lucky to finish one shot ahead of him.”

The 24-year-old moves to 30th on the Race to Dubai and into position to win rookie of the year honors.

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