Belgian golfer Thomas Pieters made a name for himself at the 2016 Ryder Cup as the first rookie in Ryder Cup history to earn four points. After a few below average seasons, Thomas is back to his winning ways with a victory at the Portugal Masters to end 2021, and most recently his 1st career Rolex Series victory at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. Thomas is climbing the rankings and doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon.
We are meeting Thomas in his room in Dubai, the Monday after the Slync.IO Dubai Desert Classic. His girlfriend is taking a swim downstairs and his baby girl is taking a nap. Thomas gives us a glance behind the scenes and insight into his recent play.
WAMP: Thomas, you seemed incredibly relaxed and composed during the final round in Abu Dhabi. Did it feel that way to you?
THOMAS: (laughs). Actually, I don’t think I’ve ever been less prepared for an event. But I’m glad it came off that way!
WAMP: Tell us more, Thomas.
THOMAS: Well, I was hoping to have a relaxing ski trip with my family to the Alps, and then head to Dubai well in advance of the season kick-off to train and get my game in shape. But, on our way to the Alps I started to feel unwell. I decided to test for COVID, and unfortunately it came back positive. The vacation turned into a quarantine, and I began to worry if I’d even be able to compete in the first few events of the DP World Tour’s season. These Middle East events are massive, Rolex Series are the premier events on the schedule and one’s I was incredibly excited to play. Tests kept coming back positive, and I was watching my friends on social media working on their games and getting better; it was tough. Thankfully, the weekend before Abu Dhabi, the test came back negative, and I was able to hop on a plane and arrive just in time for a practice round.
WAMP: Well, thank goodness you made it! What a performance. It was neat to see Thomas Detry, your fellow countryman and good friend, waiting for you after you’d won.
THOMAS: It was so great to see Detry after I walked off the green. Typically, players will pack up and head to their next stop as soon as they finish on Sunday, but for him to wait around for 3 hours to see me finish – that’s something special.
WAMP: Speaking of the next stop, Saturday in Dubai seemed to be a tough one. Was happened there, was it fatigue, nervousness, tough conditions?
THOMAS: Honestly, it could have been worse. Fatigue for sure. Winning events in professional golf is mentally and physically exhausting. I think the previous week had finally caught up with me, combined with my lack of training heading in Abu Dhabi. My body just couldn’t go. It’s also never fun when you aren’t hitting the shots you want!
WAMP: That’s a feeling we know, bad golf shots.
THOMAS: Well, professionals hit bad shots too, trust me. We’re just able to fix the issues quicker, usually! The days we don’t feel great with our game turn into damage control – hit the fairway, middle of the green, try to make some pars. That’s one area of my game I’ve really worked on; staying calm and not pressing for the “perfect” shot. Four years ago, I would have gone mad. I would have kept looking for that brilliant shot. And I would have played over 80
WAMP: Well, you turned it around nicely on Sunday! Were you able to see Rory’s finish? What did you think?
THOMAS: Yes, I did see his finish. Certainly, a tough one for him, but I think he made the right decision to go for it. He’s won so many events and pulled off so many great shots. He went for the win, and sometimes it just doesn’t work out.
WAMP: It looked like he was a bit angry with himself though, didn’t it?
THOMAS: Sure, I’m sure he was angry. But that’s because he’s a competitor and wants to win! We all are competitive and hope to pull off the shots needed to hold the trophy in the end.
WAMP: You’re currently 31st in the Official World Golf Ranking and will be flying to Los Angeles to play the Genesis Invitational. You also have some big events in the US coming up after that. What are your goals?
THOMAS: The goal is always the same, to win. I’m glad to have put myself back in the Top-50 in the world and have the chance to compete in some massive events coming up, but I’m focused on continuing to rise the rankings and play great golf. Riviera is one of my favorite golf courses in the world, and it’s always an honor to compete in Tiger’s event, I can’t wait to get there.
WAMP: Well thank you for the time, Thomas. Congratulations again on a strong start to 2022, and we wish you the best of luck for the remainder of the season.
THOMAS: Cheers mate, thank you.