Thomas Pieters has dealt a blow to European Ryder Cup hopes by signing for LIV Golf, although he assured the DP World Tour that he was committed to trying to appear alongside Luke Donald in the match. september.
As world No. 34, Pieters is the ninth-highest European in the standings and had every chance of playing in the blue and gold for the second time.
Pieters, 31, made his debut in 2016 where he set a record for a rookie by winning four out of five points, with Rory McIlroy hailing the Belgian as “the perfect partner”.
Pieters was courted by the Saudi-funded circuit for months but told Tour officials as recently as January that he would not be joining Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter, Sergio Garcia and Henrik Stenson, the Swede who was stripped of the European Captaincy when he defected last July.
In Abu Dhabi five weeks ago, Pieters explained what it meant to play at the Youdal Open in his native country. “As a 16- or 17-year-old player, you dream of winning trophies, but you never think about money,” he said. “I’ve had a great life outside of golf. I can leave and have a very good life right now. That’s not what it’s about; I like to play.
“I love having an open house, seeing the kids there, seeing all my friends there. I practice with the kids there. I can see how the kids appreciate that. I’ve never had that in growing up, so it’s nice to practice with the kids, to give them something to look at.
But a seven-figure upfront fee plus the huge prize money on offer — even if a golfer finishes last in the 14-event league each time, they’re guaranteed at least $2 million — have become too tempting. It is also suspected that Pieters was not in love with the “strategic alliance” between the DP World Tour and PGA Tours.
He had previously indicated he would not take a card to play on the US circuit if he had finished in the top five on the European Order of Merit this year, and on Wednesday he sent out a critical tweet about the event $20 million PGA Tour. is currently taking place in Los Angeles. Pieters was clearly annoyed that he didn’t get an invite to the tournament promoted by Tiger Woods’ charitable foundation.
Did this snub push him to the limit? LIV was due to announce its full 48-player roster for 2023 on Friday, but delayed it, likely due to the 11th-hour acquisition of Pieters.
LIV has not confirmed the news, but sources have told Telegraph Sport that Pieters will be unveiled on Monday and will take part in the $25million opening event which kicks off in Mexico on Friday.
Pieters is Greg Norman’s biggest signing at the end of the season, joining world number 46 Mito Pereira in the top 50 list which already includes Cam Smith, Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson and Bryson DeChambeau. His decision does not necessarily mean that he will no longer play on the DP World Tour.
Wentworth HQ are eagerly awaiting the verdict of a recent Sports Resolution arbitration hearing in London which will ultimately decide whether the Tour has the power to ban the Rebels.
As for the Ryder Cup, it is almost impossible to envisage Pieters getting one of Donald’s six wildcards and so he would have to qualify by right, that is, spectacular performances in the majors, starting with the Masters in April.
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