Thomas Pieters keeping his focus on the golf course at Belgian Knockout

Thomas Pieters during the 2016 Ryder Cup

Thomas Pieters will have home advantage when he tees it up at this week's Belgian Knockout but he insists he will be keeping his focus on the course in Antwerp.

The format is making its second appearance on the European Tour, with the top 32 from each side of the draw after 36 holes of traditional stroke play advancing to the knockout stages over the weekend.

Players will then go head-to-head over nine holes of stroke play, with the player with the lowest score advancing to the next round until there is just one left standing.

The event is hosted and promoted by members of Pieters' family and after exiting in the round of 64 last season, the 2016 Ryder Cup star is determined to keep his head on the course and advance further this time around.

"I just hope I go better than last year," he said. "I'm super happy. It's weird to see my family running around super stressed so I'm going to stay as far away from them as possible this week.

I played very aggressive last year and I think I'll do it again this year. That's just the way I play this course every day when I'm home.

Pieters is without a win since the 2016 Made in Denmark, a victory that went a long way to securing his captain's pick for the Ryder Cup at Hazeltine National.

He produced a remarkable fightback at the recent US PGA Championship, recovering from six over after three holes to finish in the top 25, and he is confident his game is not too far away from being competitive again.

"Bethpage was super tough, it was crazy," he told europeantour.com. "I was six over through three holes on Thursday and managed to finish four over so I was happy with the way I mentally fought through that.

"The game is there, I just need to put four good rounds together and have a good finish."

Adrian Otaegui is defending the title this week and the Spaniard is delighted to be back on a happy hunting ground at Rinkven International Golf Club.

"It feels very special to be back here in Rinkven this week," he said. "To be back at this course, the driving range, the atmosphere, it definitely brings back good memories from last year and it is a good feeling to be defending champion.

"I am very motivated, and it is a nice challenge to defend my title, so I will do my best to defend it."

- Press Association

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