Pieters gives Clarke plenty to ponder
Thomas Pieters produced a brilliant finish to win his third European Tour title at the Made in Denmark and give European Ryder Cup Captain Darren Clarke plenty to think about.
Pieters arrived at Himmerland Golf & Spa Resort as the form man on Tour with top five finishes in his last two events but knowing that despite this being the last event in the year-long Ryder Cup qualifying race automatic qualification for the European team to go to Hazeltine in September was out of his reach.
All he could do was try to impress the captain one more time ahead of Clarke’s announcement of his wild cards on Tuesday. He played the first two rounds with Clarke and opened with a course record-equalling 62 before giving a masterclass in scrambling in a level par 71 on Friday.
On Sunday he showed incredible cool under pressure, shrugging off the distraction of a four-hour-and-15-minute weather delay to almost make a hole-in-one on the 16th and put his approaches on the 17th and 18th to close range for three closing birdies and a 17 under par total.
That gave him a 65 and a one-shot win over Bradley Dredge, and will also give Clarke some food for thought ahead of making his three Captain's picks on Tuesday.
In the final World Points list of the campaign, Russell Knox finished tenth with Pieters just 0.04 points behind in 11th.
"I really needed a good finish," said Pieters. "I saw I was one back walking to the green on 16 and I hit a great shot there but I knew I needed to make at least one more. To finish with two more birdies was pretty cool.
"It's all about winning tournaments. I'm really happy with this one. That was one of my goals, to just have one every year, just so you know you're improving and you can win. That's very important. I'm very, very happy.
"He (Clarke) has got plenty of good players to pick from, so if he doesn't pick me, then so be it and I'll work my butt off to get there in the next one. But I've done all I can now and I'm just really pleased with this win to be honest."
Another Ryder Cup hopeful, Martin Kaymer, finished tied sixth with weekend rounds of 66 and 68 while Soren Kjledsen, also in the Ryder Cup mix, delighted the home crowds with a closing 66 to finish joint eighth.
Clarke will name his three wild cards on Tuesday 30 August, live on rydercup.com at 12.30 BST.