Golfer Thomas Pieters follows pop star Niall Horan’s direction for contest format

Thomas Pieters has revealed he took inspiration from One Direction’s Niall Horan with regard to the format for this week’s inaugural Belgian Knockout in Antwerp.

Golfer Thomas Pieters follows pop star Niall Horan’s direction for contest format

The tournament begins with two days in which the 144-man field play regulation strokeplay to establish the top 64, who will play nine-hole matches under a hybrid strokeplay-matchplay format over the weekend. Three rounds of knockout matches, under strokeplay rules, take place on Saturday before the quarter-finals, semi-final, and final take place on Sunday.

Pieters, the host for the event at Rinkven International Golf Club, revealed: “I played a lot of matchplay when I was young and I loved it, I still love it.

“Having nine-hole matchplay might have been a bit harsh, if you’re four down after five, so I saw a tournament on the Challenge Tour which Niall Horan hosted in Northern Ireland with the same format that we’re doing now.

“I liked it, because I saw some interesting finishes, because it’s not over until the final hole, because it’s strokeplay-matchplay. That’s why I chose it. You have to battle until the end. You can be five shots back after three holes and still come out on top.”

Pieters, who will be joined in competing by compatriots Nicolas Colsaerts and Thomas Detry, is proud of what will be the first European Tour event staged in Belgium since 2000.

Meanwhile Jordan Spieth has emphasised how positive he is feeling about his game ahead of this week’s AT&T Byron Nelson in his native Dallas, declaring “everything is starting to fall in place”.

Spieth, yet to win a tournament in 2018, last month came joint-third at the Houston Open, then third at the Masters. And he shot a seven-under 65 on Saturday at the Players Championship before dropping down the leaderboard on Sunday.

The 24-year-old three-time major and 11-time PGA Tour said yesterday: “I feel as good about my game right now as I have this entire year and even a lot of last year, so I feel like good things are coming. I’ve stayed the course, had a lot of patience recently. Everything is starting to fall in place.”

Spieth — who competed aged 16 in the 2010 edition of the tournament on a sponsor exemption, and finished tied 16th — is a member at Trinity Forest Golf Club, a new venue for the event. He added: “Obviously (with) this course I feel like I’m at an advantage.”

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