Thomas Pieters pledges allegiance to European Tour

Success in United States will not keep Belgian Ryder Cup star away from home

Thomas Pieters of Belgium will not abandon European Tour. Photograph: Robert Laberge/Getty Images.

Thomas Pieters of Belgium will not abandon European Tour. Photograph: Robert Laberge/Getty Images.

 

Ryder Cup star Thomas Pieters has vowed to remain loyal to the European Tour, even if he continues to taste success on the other side of the Atlantic.

Pieters enjoyed the most successful debut by a European rookie in last year’s loss at Hazeltine, winning four of his five matches in the 17-11 defeat.

That performance brought the 25-year-old Belgian to the attention of the wider golfing public in the United States, where he won an NCAA individual title while attending the University of Illinois.

And by finishing joint second in the Genesis Open thanks to a closing 63 at Riviera, Pieters could secure special temporary membership of the PGA Tour with his performance in this week’s Honda Classic.

However, the world number 33 has no intentions of abandoning the European Tour and has already told Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn he plans to be part of the team at Le Golf National in 2018.

“I’m really close to my family, I love living at home and I’m a new uncle now, which is really exciting,” Pieters, whose sister gave birth to a son three months ago, told a pre-tournament press conference.

“Even when I go away for three weeks, I do miss my family. That’s why I’m going to keep playing in Europe and for the Ryder Cup, as well. I told Thomas Bjorn that I’m not going to leave his tour and I’m dedicated to playing in Europe and being in that Ryder Cup team.

Different cultures

Pieters is part of a strong European contingent at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens which includes 2015 winner Pádraig Harrington, Russell Knox, Paul Casey, Graeme McDowell, Sergio Garcia, Matt Fitzpatrick and Danny Willett.

Garcia finished just a shot behind Adam Scott last year with McDowell fifth, while Knox, Casey and Ian Poulter were joint third behind Harrington.

“It must be the weather and the toughness of the course maybe,” Pieters added when asked to explain such results.

“We play a lot of tournaments where you might win with a couple under par or nine or 10, and we very rarely are at tournaments where you have to shoot 25 under par and I feel like that happens more over here.

“I’m not saying it’s easier over here or anything. I think the courses are set up a lot differently but we play maybe in a lot of worse weather than these guys do. And maybe we’re just used to a lot of wind and tough conditions I think.”

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