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 Mcllroy said. “Who is this boy? Where does he come from?” Tiger woods said surprised. Well Tiger, he’s the only Belgian who competed in 3 out of 4 majors this year and who made the cut not once, but twice. And he won 3 tournaments during the European Tour. For now.
WAMP: Happy with your Open results, Thomas?
THOMAS: Obviously I’m glad I got to play but I kind of hoped for a better outcome. But to be fair: The Open is ‘heaven’ for golfers, especially this edition in Ireland.
WAMP: Homebase for Darren Clarke, who selected you as a Rookie for the Ryders Club. Where you amazed everyone with 4 wins. How was the reunion?
THOMAS: It was great. We did a practice round on Tuesday. He gave away all the secrets of the course.
WAMP: Darren called you ‘the biggest talent in Europe since Rory Mcllroy’ in 2016. Does he have any second thoughts about that statement?
THOMAS: No, he still stands by it. But he knows how it’s like to start every tournament off with high expectations.
WAMP: Ok, so The Open. You started off well! 25th place going into the third day.
THOMAS: Yes, that went pretty well, only good vibes! But at 14 I lost three hits and bye bye good vibes. It’s hard to explain, but one moment you feel invincible and the other moment you’re trying to find some sort of swing feeling.
WAMP: The finals were on the 21st of July, a national holiday. Fans already posted the Belgian flag with the Claret Jug, the cup, on it, on Twitter. Did that affect you?
THOMAS: I only saw it because someone told me about it. I tend to stay away from my phone during a tournament. It’s too distracting. But I think the fan support is awesome! I just can’t reply on a short notice during tournaments; when I’m in the game, I’m in the game.
WAMP: So you dropped a few positions, too bad. How did you get pumped for the last day? Fans thought you didn’t care anymore after seeing you take a driver on that shot and swung and missed the ball.
THOMAS: I can understand their thoughts but that wasn’t the case. You know, I love playing golf. It’s my life. I’m grateful to be able to play and I’m in it to win. That’s how I work. That morning I stood alongside the defending champion Francesco Molinari at practice. At that moment we had the same score. I overheard the advise his mental coach gave him: “Play like your two hits behind the leader.” Good one, I thought. There was a bad weather forecast for the afternoon so the leaders would be playing the rain and wind. I thought it would probably cost them some shots. So it was all or nothing for me. Game on, time to show them the Great Pieters. (Laughing). And then I missed my first shot. Game over.
WAMP: But what was most striking was how you kept your calm. You teed up, without cussing or throwing around clubs, and you hit in the middle of the fairway.
THOMAS: Yes and followed by a three putter. That sucks. But I’m glad you noticed though. I’m much more relaxed and reserved now after missing a hit then before. I also have way more fun when playing than the past few years. And, last but not least, I’m even a better golfer than in my ‘glory year’ 2016. All we have to do now is wait for the results to follow.
WAMP: Also, you said Molinari was about to charge. Well, that didn’t happen…
THOMAS: (Screaming with laughter). That was the misconception of the day! I thought; he’s going to bring it. Give it all. After all, he was the champion of last year. But ‘charging’ for Francesco means playing even more boring than usual. Unbelievable. He hit 18 holes in exactly the same way. No spectacle, no fantasy, no risk. Just straight ahead. But then again, he did get top 10. Not by cup of tea though, not my style. I love playing golf way too much. If you see golfers like Rory or Dustin Johnson play, now that’s exciting.
WAMP: It’s good to give people something exciting to watch but it does cost you points in the ranking.
THOMAS: True. But on days it does work out you’re the super talent again. Good thing I’m not concerned with that. I just play golf and try to enjoy it as much as possible.
WAMP: So it comes down to patience?
THOMAS: I’m feeling great, my game is great, I get to play with top players and I’m enjoying every minute of it. I understand that fans can get a bit impatient because my results aren’t that great, but that’s golf. One day, probably when no one’s expecting it, I’ll get the awaited results and everyone will be happy again. In the meantime I’m working on my game, every day, and enjoying every round I get to play. I hope my fans do too.
WAMP: And that they’ll post their matches on WAMP, of course. Speaking of the WAMP app: you’re in 30th place on the Twain-Ranking. Following 29 amateur golfers.
THOMAS: Yes I’m a rookie in that area. I even forget to post my matches sometimes. But from now on I won’t!
WAMP: Deal! When will we see you compete again?
THOMAS: In Prague. Czech Masters
WAMP: The one you once won.
THOMAS: (Wink). Yep.
WAMP: Good luck Thomas! We’ll speak soon, at the next coffee break.