Thomas Pieters is one of the best golfers in the world. When he was just twenty-four years old, he defeated every American in 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 wondered surprisingly. He talks about his previous golf year exclusive for WAMP.
We meet Thomas when he’s just back from Mauritius, his last tournament of 2019.
Together with WAMP he looks back at a roller coaster year. When we ask what was is high and his low, we obviously think of his victory in D&D Czech Masters (-19) and that terrible first round at his own home tournament, the BKO (+7) which caused an early knock out.
But Thomas wouldn’t be Thomas if he didn’t have different view on that.
An interview about the year 2019 of Thomas Pieters.
THOMAS: Sure, D&D at Prague was great. Winning is always nicer than not winning. But the absolute high for me this year was Dubai. (Pieters ended 6th). Just the pleasure to compete with the best of the world and finish top 10. My old buddies from the Ryder Cup were there. Rory was there. And I played well. It felt great.
WAMP: How about the low?
THOMAS: Ireland. Lahinch. That was a disaster. Five bogeys to start with. Nothing worked. I felt totally incompetent. You know, round one of the Belgian Knock Out was bad. But the next day I played -6. In Ireland I felt like a total loser and there was nothing I could do about it. That is the most awful feeling for a professional golfer. I was lost.
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: Bad putting.
THOMAS: Bad? A disaster.
WAMP: Yet we didn’t see you break clubs. How did you handle this feeling?
THOMAS: Thomas, my personal trainer, lent me his sneakers and I ran back to the hotel, five miles. To get it out of my head. Afterwards, we discussed the situation and worked on it. I haven’t missed the cut since then. Not once. I’m the second best ball striker in the Tour, statistics say. Right after Tyrell Hatton. But in putting, I’m number 172. It’s bad, but it’s good. We’ve calculated. If I was top 100 in putting, I would be top 10 in total. It means, if we can fix this, I’m in contention.
WAMP: An old cliché. It all comes down to the putting.
THOMAS: It does. So much chances I missed on the green. That’s where the work is. But look at it from the positive side. If you’re ball striker nr 70, and you’re always top 10, it means you’re great around the green. But if one day the ball doesn’t want to sink, you’re nowhere. When I have a good day on the green, I’m hard to beat. So that is the focus for 2020: putting. Nothing else.
WAMP: And then of course, we want to know how you’re going to do that.
THOMAS: Practice, practice and practice. I once asked the coach of Jordan Spieth – the best putter in the world for years – What does Jordan do when he’s at home?
Seven to eight hours on the putting green. Whole day long. Putting from hole to hole till dark. That’s what he does. You see, putting is something you find easy to do. So you practice very little. Everyone does. That’s one thing we will change. The other thing is ‘feeling’. I’m too technical on the green. I’m a perfectionist. I want to control and understand every little muscle. Four years ago I rarely missed. I putted without thinking. Pure feeling. That is what we need to find back before the season starts half January.
A good friend of mine plays the piano. He has a good term for it:
“The difference between finger placement and Music.”
When you learn to play the piano, you learn how to place you finger on the keys. That is technique. You practice and practice until it becomes a second nature. Once you’re on stage, you no longer think about where you have to put which finger. You think ‘Music’ and let your fingers do the rest.
‘If it sings, it’ll sink’.
So practice it will be. From tee to green I’m better than ever before. If I can get my putting to the same level, we’re laughing. Or as my good friend and caddy Adam Marrow puts it: “From here there’s only one way: Up!”
WAMP: That is a great message to start the new year. What is the first tournament?
THOMAS:Abu Dhabi in January, and the Desert Classic in Dubai.
WAMP: Thanks Thomas, we wish you all the best. Let’s face the music and dance!