Belgian golfer Thomas Pieters became world famous as the first rookie ever to win four of his matches in the 2016 Ryder Cup. After an average year, he fought his way back into the Top75, but was stopped by a nasty virus. How does a top golfer, who normally plays a tournament nearly every week, survive these strange Spring months? Thomas will tell us face-to-Facetime.
We don’t need to ask Thomas how he’s doing. He’s probably the only athlete who’s happy to see the Olympic Games being postponed for a year. His girlfriend Stefanie was due to give birth to their first child during the Games. The HIGH/LOWS of Thomas are now far away from the green fields. Becoming a father is something he is now looking forward to. The fact that he can’t play golf and has no income, is a minor issue, compared to other people’s problems in this crisis, he realizes.
WAMP: Thomas, you normally have a strictly organized life with a very full agenda. Do you have a strong discipline nowadays?
THOMAS: Definitely not. To the contrary. I’m enjoying my freedom now. I’m really living in my apartment for the very first time. Finally. In the morning, we take a long breakfast. Then we go cycling or do some other exercise.
WAMP: What about golf trainings?
THOMAS:I now can do what my golf coach Pete Cowen has always asked me to do: practice without a club. To train the mental aspect of the golf swing. To stand in front of the mirror en watch how it should look and how that feels. To know what every movement of every body part does and to imprint that on your brain. You can compare this with what a pilot does before take off. Checking all the meters and the buttons and memorize it. So that in stressed situations, they don’t have to wonder where they are and how they work. That’s what it comes down to. Purely mental. The steering in your head, before the action starts. That is what you have to train. Mind you, I would never recommend this to someone who still has to learn how to swing a club. But for a professional golfer it is essential.
I wasn’t practicing this the way I should. Now I can. Now I must. And it works.
WAMP: What advice would you give to our readers, the Wampions. How can they make best use of this lockdown if they want to win their matches when the courses re-open again?
THOMAS: Start with the mental part. Meditation. Google Joe Dispenza. He gives you great tips that will help you control your nerves when you’re performing under pressure.
For the physical part: train your endurance. You need it when you have to be sharp four or five hours in a row. Cardio training on a low heartbeat is ideal. Walk, but walk fast. Keep your heartbeat between 110 and 140.
Other than that, do the basic fitness. Check this video for good basic exercise.
WAMP: What if I have a garden?
THOMAS. Chip if you have a lawn. But make it fun. Or you’ll be bored soon. Do a game. Practice with three umbrellas. Put them on different distances upside down in the grass and try to hit balls in the umbrellas. If you succeed, try two in a row. Then three. And again. Make the longest series and try to break your own record. Your swing with irons and woods is mostly okay. But chipping and putting is the first thing to go away when you don’t play. I have a putting green in my apartment.But too even unfortunately. The tilers were too good. (laugh)
WAMP: And pregnancy gym?
THOMAS: Of course. We do yoga together. Love it.
WAMP: Thomas, one last question. Is there still a chance we might see you at work in a Major Championship this year?
THOMAS: My mind is not on Majors right now. Makes no sense. What comes will come. The Open is cancelled for the first time since WWII.
The other Majors are being moved to the end of the Summer. But I can’t imagine how they are going to do that. It at least takes 500 people to run a tournament like that. How are they going to keep them apart? And I’m not even speaking of the audience. But you never know. We’ll see. First a baby.
WAMP: Thank you Thomas. On behalf of all of us, Wampions, good luck with the baby and enjoy the rest.