His last visit to Australia yielded glory for his country, and Thomas Pieters is aiming for more success in a very different format at the ISPS Handa World Super 6 Perth.
The Belgian is the tournament favourite at Lake Karrinyup Country Club, arriving in Perth on the back of seven straight top 30 finishes worldwide, and less than three months after lifting the ISPS Handa Melbourne World Cup of Golf trophy alongside countryman Thomas Detry.
He may have missed the cut when he last teed it up on the Lake Karrinyup layout in 2014, but the Ryder Cup player has long put those memories behind him and is looking forward to the exciting mix of stroke play and match play that also features in his own event, the Belgian Knockout, which made its debut on the European Tour last season.
Home favourite and Major winner Geoff Ogilvy is also relishing the format this week, which features 54 holes of traditional stroke play across the first three days followed by six-hole knockout match play in the fourth and final round.
The 2006 U.S. Open champion has recently returned to his homeland after 20 years in the United States and he is looking forward to spending time with some of the young Australian players in the field this week, including 23-year-old Lucas Herbert, who made his mark on the European Tour last season after finishing in third place in this event.
“I love Australia. I’ve always had a liking for it, and the golf courses especially. I played the World Cup atThe Metropolitan and before that Kingston Heath. A wonderful course as well.
“I have good memories about this course, but I just didn’t play well five years ago, and I was nowhere near the same golfer as I think I am today. But I saw the course today and it does bring back some memories. I like that you can be very aggressive here.
“Goals-wise, I would love to make it to Sunday, and I think if you just make it to Sunday, anybody’s got a chance. It’s always nice (to be one of the favourites). I’m playing decent golf, hitting the ball quite nice, I just haven’t put four really good rounds together. So, it’s just a matter of time, I think. I’m quite positive about the next few months.
“At the Belgian Knockout it’s not quite the same, but we have a knockout stage as well after 36 holes. I just like new ideas and I think it makes it interesting for the public to watch on TV. I think that’s where golf is going to go or needs to go, especially with young guys playing aggressive golf. It’s fun to watch.”
“I think there’s plenty of room in golf for different stuff than 72-hole stroke play. I haven’t felt what it’s like here, the format and how it unfolds, but the guys who have played it have loved it, think it’s a really cool, exciting thing.
“Pure match play tournaments don’t seem to work commercially because half the field’s gone every day. But this is kind of that happy medium. The traditionalists are happy because we’re playing stroke play for three days, and the 2020 crowd is happy because we’re playing the six-hole match play.
“Lucas (Herbert) is doing a pretty good job. He’s one of the young Australians who I think is doing it right, going through Europe first, learning the craft of the game. One of the things I would love to do when I’m at home is just play golf with all these guys, play with an ulterior motive that will help me get better too, I think.
“If they can learn anything from me either just by watching or any advice they ask or anything like that, that would be great. It’s a nice thing if each generation can kind of keep helping the generation before.”