Hits it an absolute mile, isn't impressed by Rickie Fowler and had an unconventional golfing upbringing...
This kid is, and is going to be, huuuuuuuge!
Thomas Pieters fits the mould of the next generation of golfers. Having just turned 24 and standing at 6’5 he’s a proper athlete. Kind of like a cross between a basketball player and a surfer he absolutely spanks it… like really spanks it.
Coming up against him week in week out on the European Tour must be pretty intimidating as he towers over you, although to be fair you won’t be with him long as he is stood on the fairway 30 yards ahead of the average tour drive.
In just his third year on tour he has rocketed up to 60 in the world largely thanks to back-to-back wins at the KLM and Czech Masters last season. He’s got plaudits from everyone, has played with the best and it’s no wonder he is confident!
“I’ve seen nice rounds of golf but I play with these guys like Rickie Fowler and I’m not impressed. It sounds like a douche thing to say, but they just manage their way around the golf course better than me at the moment, it’s not like they can hit shots that I can’t.
“So it’s just maturing and hitting the right shots. I play very aggressive, sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t, but that’s the way I play and I think it’s exciting. I’m not going to change that!”
That said he still respects his peers and admits that recognition he received from the likes of Rory McIlroy and Henrik Stenson in Abu Dhabi is something he really values and inspires him to work even harder.
It’s also been quite a whirlwind from the wins last summer to the recent desert swing and Pieters is having to get used to the attention and euphoria that comes with sitting at golf's highest table.
“It went by really quick. Even now I think back, I mean I guess it’s cool to win twice, just about now I’m starting to make sense of what comes with it.
“Like recently in Dubai I had a lot of interviews and I’m not used to that! I was really tired starting on Thursday so I need to get used to it.” - (He made nine on his first hole and bust our bets!)
Rising up the rankings means he is on the cusp of entry into all the majors and WGC events automatically with a Top 50 spot but it’s not something he really pays attention to.
“I’m just try to take everything slowly. I’m not in a rush or a hurry to get to the States, everything just kind of goes how it goes.
“Yeah, it’s been fast, I was 1500 in the world three years ago but it doesn’t feel like it because I’ve done everything at my pace. I don’t look at the rankings too much and look at cut off days, I just play golf.”
It would be easy to assume given his confidence and golf game Pieters grew up a popular rich kid, the same old golf story, but you’d be wrong.
“I was five when I started playing. It’s not like my Dad was into golf before. My Mum and Dad tried it on vacation in South Africa and they came back and we all started together at this local golf course that has 13 holes… it was an unconventional place to start the game but you have to start somewhere!
“We just did it because it was fun. Something different. I’ve always played basketball and football but golf was different.
“I was getting bullied at school because it was different. When you are 11 or 12 playing football is cool, hanging out with your friends is cool but going to play golf all afternoon is not that cool.”
The Belgian guessed these kids were probably in jail by now before waxing lyrical about who inspired him growing up.
“I watched golf from an early age. I’ve always loved Tiger Woods… If he’s not your hero then something is wrong with you! The last years have been sad to see but I still think he is the best to ever play the game.
“Growing up Jack Nicklaus was somebody I looked up to, maybe the most talented out of anybody.
“I’ve been lucky enough to just kind of hang around him, it’s a nice relaxed vibe. He’s a nice guy to go to dinner with and to do practice sessions with and stuff.”
With a bit of banter...
I stopped feeling sorry for him as a kid when I realised he could just hang around with Nicklaus and pick his brains on the range… so I wanted to know who was the best person he had played with.
“The best round of golf I’ve seen was Kaymer last year in Abu Dhabi on the Saturday when he shot six or seven under, he just did not miss a shot!
“I think he messed up on 10 but then holed a 30 yard bunker shot. Everything was on, every shot he hit, very impressive that day.
#GCW - “So that’s something that you can aspire to… playing at that level right?”
“Yeh, but then the next day he shot 80!”
The kid is rare.
Super-talented, only going one way in the rankings and actually has a personality and a bit of banter to go with it.
Pay attention to this guy because one thing is guaranteed, you’ll be entertained!
Words - Ryan Curtis
I'm the Managing Editor at The Club. I like putting and Rioja. I dislike my low slice.