One Direction’s Niall Horan gave Thomas Pieters idea for Belgian Knockout format

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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.

The tournament begins with two days in which the 144-man field play regulation strokeplay to establish the top 64, who will play nine-holes 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, said on “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 and 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, has expressed his pride over what will be the first European Tour event staged in Belgium since 2000.

The 26-year-old, winner of four points on his Ryder Cup debut at Hazeltine in 2016, said: “I used to play all the junior events here in Belgium and now I have my own name on a tournament.

“I’m extremely proud to host this event. To have played a Ryder Cup, my family and I thought after I played and Nico played in one it’s time to have a tournament in Belgium again. To see it now after two years of preparation, it’s pretty cool.

“I haven’t seen them in a couple of weeks now because they’ve been working non-stop – I don’t think they’ve slept in two weeks!

“Having seen what my family has gone through, with all the details that go into holding an event, it’s unbelievable. We don’t appreciate it enough because obviously we travel to tournaments and just play and then we’re off again.

“But to see the build-up, months and months in advance, I’m definitely going to look at all of those details – for example next week at Wentworth – and just think, ‘wow, people put so much time and effort into this’.”

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