The European Tour will return to Belgium for the first time in 18 years in 2018 when Thomas Pieters hosts the Belgian Knockout – an innovative new event which incorporates a head-to-head strokeplay knockout format.
Taking place at Rinkven International Golf Club, Antwerp, from May 17-20, the opening two rounds will follow a familiar strokeplay format for 36 holes, before the leading 64 players then go head-to-head in knockout strokeplay matches contested over nine holes on the weekend to determine the winner.
“I think it’s going to be exciting,” said Pieters. “We are going to see an innovative new format and it will make it really exciting for people who come along to watch and also for people watching it at home on TV.”
The Belgian Knockout will be the first time the country has hosted a European Tour event since Lee Westwood won the last edition of the Belgian Open at Royal Zoute in 2000.
The tournament was first played in 1910 and was won five times by the forefather of Belgian golf, Flory van Donck, who was also a two-time runner-up in the Open.
In a time where golf in Belgium is beginning to flourish with stars such as Pieters, Nicolas Colsaerts and European Tour rookie Thomas Detry, the three-time European Tour winner felt now was the right time to take European Tour golf back to the country.
“It means the world to Belgium to have another European Tour event,” said Pieters. “We’ve had a decent increase in interest in golf in the last few years with Nico’s (Colsaerts) Ryder Cup, my Ryder Cup and the Olympics helping, so we thought it was time to get our own tournament back.
“It is a big role for my family, with my sister and brother-in-law promoting the tournament. I’m obviously closely involved with it too, which is a different challenge for me, but hopefully it is going to be very satisfying when the tournament starts.”
Keith Waters, the European Tour’s chief operating officer, said: “Thomas really has been the driving force behind this tournament and we are very pleased to be able to help him realise his vision.”
For more information or tickets, please visit belgianknockout.com.