Thomas Pieters is one of the best golfers in the world. When he was just twenty-four years old, he defeated every American during the Ryder Cup, which made him the first rookie ever to win all of his four matches. The world was talking about him. “I’ve found my teammate,” Rory McIlroy said. “Who is this boy? Where does he come from?” Tiger Woods said surprised. Last week, after a great qualifying tournament in London, he qualified for the US Open, one of the four majors, but didn’t make the cut.
WAMP: Thomas, you played great in Londen, what didn’t work at the US Open?
THOMAS: No energy. No power. The bustle of BKO, the qualification, the traveling. It had all been rough on me.
WAMP: Were you disappointed?
THOMAS: No, if you’re on the first tee and you feel powerless, you know it’s not a successful one. The hits necessary to recover from mistakes won’t go well. You don’t feel your arms. And you’ll make more mistakes.
WAMP: Like what?
THOMAS: Hole 8 for example. An iconic hole where you have to cross a canyon to reach the green. You know that you have to stick your ball just before the flag, because of the holes on Pebble Beach slope towards the back. If you fall somewhat beyond the flag, you roll off the green and you know that it will be a bogey or double bogey. Fine, we calculate what club we need, one second after I hit it, we look at each other and we know, too far.
WAMP: Caddie’s fault?
THOMAS: I’m still the one that hits, no. We discussed it but forgot an element. You have to think of the wind, the height, or in this case the depth. I was in the rough, so that’s another ten meters because there is no backspin on the ball. We forgot to include one of the factors in our calculations. We were tired. Both of us.
WAMP: It’s exam time. Students have pills if they are too tired…
THOMAS: Forbidden. Beta blockers, sedatives. You’re not allowed to touch those. I can’t even use a nose spray with cortisone, despite my hay fever.
WAMP: Do you get checked?
THOMAS: Yes. Certainly, now that we participate in the Olympics. They knocked on my door at 5 in the morning for a check. They’re very strict, which is fine by me.
WAMP: Before you left for Californië, you said that the scores would be around par, because it’s such a difficult course. You started in the afternoon, at which point the leaders were already on -6. Does that change your strategy?
THOMAS: No, I already knew by then that the course was made easier. Usually it’s very hard, but they did their best to make it humid, so the course would be softer. We already did some practice rounds. What did have a big impact was that I still had energy in the morning, which was long gone by the afternoon. Don’t underestimate the time difference, getting ready for the Irish, the Scottish and the British Open.
WAMP: Three in a row. Will you win one?
THOMAS: Possibly, that’s the idea. Otherwise you wouldn’t participate. Anyway, I’m not the only one trying to win (laughs). It’s still golf. Very unpredictable and everything has to be just right. But it’s possible.
WAMP: Onlookers noticed that you’re hiding your disappointment better.
THOMAS: Yep. My caddy is pleased by that. He thinks I’ve changed, which is true. Only at the BKO, that was my last jitter. But in all fairness, I felt responsible for the success of the family business. You have to play golf uninhibited. And if your profession is golf, you have every reason to be happy, even if there are setbacks.
WAMP: Sounds wise.
THOMAS: It’s the years (laughs).
WAMP: Good luck in Great Britain, Thomas, and keep smiling. We’ll see each other after the last major of the year, the British Open (Editorial note – We are so very happy Ireland is so nearby. Because staying up until four, makes us tired too).