Belgian golfer Thomas Pieters became world famous as the first rookie ever to win four matches in the Ryder Cup 2016. Last month, he won his 4th victory on the European Tour at the D&D Czech Masters. Since then, his name has been continuously back on the first page of the leaderboard. We caught up with Thomas straight after his Top-10 finish at the KLM Open, and right before The BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.
WAMP: Before we head off to Wentworth, let’s talk about the KLM Open. Happy with the result?
THOMAS: Very. Honestly. That course is extremely difficult. The greens are so tricky. You have to be very precise with every approach you do or you’re looking at bogey.
WAMP: 6 under on day two brought you in contention, and then you start off with 4 over on day 3.
THOMAS: Those nine holes were nine holes I’d quickly like to forget about. It was awful.
WAMP: But you came back. Six birdies in seven holes.
THOMAS: Yes. And that was a personal victory. A year ago 4 over would have been a disaster and the end of the story.
WAMP: Can you describe the difference on how you would have dealt with it last year compared to now?
THOMAS: A year ago my head would have exploded. I would be thinking of what the press would write, the comments the fans would make and how disappointed my team would be. I’d be going mad and hit some stupid shots. Now I’m able to stay calm and get over it. I take it as it comes and I know there will be some birdies to come.
You know, I’ve hit some bad shots in Amsterdam at inconvenient moments. Moreover, my driver cracked, although not enough to be allowed to replace it (suddenly looks up: Hey, make sure the readers know that I didn’t break the driver, …big laugh). Still I finish in 10th place. That’s amazing, trust me. All due to the fact that I remained calm. And staying calm is getting easier, because I feel that this new ‘strategy’ works. A feeling that I didn’t have a year ago.
WAMP: What has caused this change? Getting older?
THOMAS: Maybe. But the main thing is: I’m no longer competing against the rest of the world. I’m focused on becoming the best Thomas Pieters in the world. And if that Pieters is better than everyone else, that’s fine. But the focus is on being my own best. Take for example day 4 at the KLM Open, when my driver appeared to be cracked. Balls were balls everywhere. And because I wasn’t allowed to change my driver, I had to continue the round with my 4-wood. Adam (Marrow, his caddie) said, don’t look at the others, play you own best game with what you have in the bag. And it worked. I shot 4 under on the last nine holes and came back from 35th place to 10th. I for sure could have pulled off a few more birdies with my driver, but what isn’t there can’t be used, can it?
WAMP: You seem ready for the PGA Championship at Wentworth. How important is that event?
THOMAS: It’s our PGA Championship. Everyone wants to be there, even the Americans.
WAMP: Do you have high expectations?
THOMAS: I have NO expectations. You know, after winning the Czech Masters and a top-10 finish last week at the KLM Open, every journalist asks me what my plans are. If I’m aiming to get back inside the top20 of the World Ranking and all that kind of stuff. They’re more impatient than I am. I enjoy my game now. I don’t get angry anymore. I’m happy and proud to be part of all of this and to be able to make a living by playing golf. And I’m working to bring out the best there is in me. That’s it. That’s the plan. And if every now and then I get to win a tournament, I’ll be the happiest person the world.
WAMP: Thank you Thomas. Keep enjoying life.