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 World Top75, but was halted by a nasty virus. Thanks to a glorious finish at Celtic Manor – four birdies in a row – he secured his playing rights for the US Open in New York on 17th September. Right before boarding his first plane in 6 months and with new daughter Florence in his arms, Thomas shares his US Open preparations.
WAMP: Thomas, are you ready?
THOMAS: More than ever. I was a bit worried after the lockdown, but everything seemed to work out well in Wales.
WAMP: Does the US Open requires a special preparation?
THOMAS: It does. Winged Foot Golf Club is dangerous off the tee. Thick and high rough. If you’re not on the fairway, you can’t reach the green. So that is what we have been focusing on. Tee shots. And 120-140m shots.
WAMP: Last year you said your focus would be on putting. You had calculated that if you did that a little better, you would be top10 in the world.
THOMAS: Yes. And as you could see in Wales, that problem has been fixed.
WAMP: Can you explain what exactly has been fixed?
THOMAS: I learned something new about how to read greens. Before, I just did a lot of guessing. Now I know better what line to pick. It gives me the confidence I was searching for. Technically my putting swing is good enough. But because I was missing so many, I started to question my technique whilst I was putting. Which is not ideal. Now, I just putt like I used to do. With a clear mind. And if I miss, I think about baby Florence and I’m back to smiling.
WAMP: So, do you have high expectations for New York?
THOMAS: I have no expectations and maybe that’s a good thing. I really don’t know how it is going to be, after such a weird year. I’m prepared and I can count on my swing, that’s all I can say. Anything can happen, good or bad. 2020 isn’t a golf year, and even less so for me, with the baby. I’ll just play and we’ll see.
WAMP: How much do you like playing in the States?
THOMAS: Very much. I’ll do anything to play more in the States. That’s the goal next year.
WAMP: Is there still hope for you to make it to the Masters?
THOMAS: No. That entry list is set since March. My friend Daniel Berger has played some incredible golf since the re-start and is Top15 in the world right now. But he’s not included in the field. Very strange. But it is what it is. 2020 is just a weird year. After this week’s US Open, I’ll play the Scottish Open and the BMW PGA at Wentworth. Everything after that is a big question mark.
WAMP: One last question before you go. Who do you think is the new talent on the tour?
THOMAS: I played with Rasmus Hojgaard at the start of this year and I’ve never seen such maturity in a nineteen year old kid. What a talent. And he’s already got a very good team around him. Very professional. Keep an eye out for him. And of course Thomas Detry. Won’t be long before he wins that first title.
During our conversation, Florence Pieters fell asleep on Thomas’ shoulder. The new dad maneuvers her very slowly and softly in her crib and gives her a sweet kiss. Silently and without a handshake or hug, we say goodbye. Wishing Thomas some sweet long putts in New York, and some sweet thoughts about his baby girl, in case he misses.