Golf: Thomas Pieters wins a prestigious title in Abu Dhabi
Thomas Pieters, the first Belgian in the sport's history to win a major tournament in the Rolex Series, enters the closed circle of the best golfers in the world.
The Abu Dhabi Championship is one of the biggest events of the year, with mouth-watering prize money of $8 million, including $1.33 million for the winner. Many of the best golfers on the planet could be found on the greens of the United Arab Emirates capital during January.
Although the Belgian number 1 won the Portuguese Masters in Vilamoura at the end of last season, he was not the favourite for this four-day high-level competition. But Thomas Pieters can compete with the best players when he is feeling confident.
From the first round on the Emirati Yas Links course (par 72), the 29-year-old from Antwerp showed the scale of his ambitions by finishing the 18-hole course in 65 shots (7 under par). Imperturbable during a second round that was very chaotic due to the gusty desert winds, which forced him and the other participants to limit the damage (74), the Belgian then proved particularly resilient over the weekend by achieving scores of 67 and 72.
With an overall score of 10 under par, Thomas Pieters finished one shot ahead of two other golfers, Spain's Rafa Cabrera-Bello and India's Shubhankar Sharma, who tied for second place. The Belgian therefore won the sixth, and indisputably most prestigious, title of his career.
The icing on the cake is that by reaching 31st place in the world, Thomas Pieters will be invited to the biggest golf tournament on the planet in April: the Augusta Masters in the United States!