In a thrilling final day of action, it was Belgium's Thomas Pieters who outlasted the competition, with a level-par final round giving him his first Rolex Series event title and the biggest win of his career.
Since claiming the Portugal Masters in November 2021, the 29-year-old has found his form of that a few years ago. Whilst others around him struggled, the Belgian didn't, with a cool and composed final round earning him a one shot victory over Rafa Cabrera Bello and Shubhankar Sharma.
"I'm finally happy I can get Adam (his caddie) a gold bib", joked Pieters. "We've been talking about this for years! I felt well in control of my golf ball today. The putting wasn't really there, but early on I felt pretty confident.
"When you're in control of your ball flight and your golf ball it's just fun. You can be creative and that's just how I felt out there today. I just hope that all the juniors back home are watching this. As a kid I used to watch this and think 'it's impossible for me', but when Nico (Nicolas Colsaerts) came onto the scene and started winning, it's stuff that like that which inspires kids. Hopefully I can do that back home."
The biggest win of @Thomas_Pieters' career!He becomes the first Belgian winner of a Rolex Series event. #ADGolfChamps | #RolexSeries pic.twitter.com/KEiLIC5XZGJanuary 23, 2022
Beginning the final round it was 38-year-old, Scott Jamieson, who led the star-studded field by one stroke. Looking for his first victory in over 10 years, the Scot didn't start well, with four bogies in his opening five holes dropping him back.
It wasn't just Jamieson who was struggling though, with Ryder Cup players, Shane Lowry and Viktor Hovland also making a mess to the beginning of their rounds. Finding the middle of the fairway with his drive at the first, Lowry would pull his second shot left, eventually making a triple-bogey seven that sort of set the tone for the remainder of his round. Not to be out done, Hovland also made a triple-bogey, with his coming at the third hole.
A man that would make quite the opposite start to the field was Pieters, with the Belgian producing seven pars on the bounce before a birdie at the eighth moved him ahead at the top of the leaderboard.
However, he would drop his first shot of the day at the par-5 11th, with a birdie at the par-4 14th from Cabrera Bello adding some serious pressure to Pieters' title hopes.
But Pieters stood strong, and when his opponent made two costly back-to-back bogies at the 15th and 16th, it remained up to the Belgian to remain steady throughout the tough closing stretch of holes.
Hitting pure iron shot after pure iron shot, not even birdies at the 18th from Cabrera Bello and Sharma could phase the 29-year-old, with seven solid closing pars demonstrating a calmer, more controlled Pieters.
Tapping in at the last, the Belgian picked up his sixth DP World Tour title and becomes the first player from his country to secure a Rolex Series event victory. There was also more good news for Pieters, as he now moves up to 31st in the world rankings.
"I kind of chickened out there on the last. I was going to go for it, but the scoreboard on 17 is broken so I didn't know, but Adam told me I was two ahead so I decided to layup. I almost hit it in the bunker, but thankfully I made a five so it was fine.
"My putter has been the biggest difference that is for sure. I worked with the guy's from Titleist, they analysed my putting and gave me this putter I am using now and everything has just been flowing."
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Matt joined Golf Monthly in February 2021 covering weekend news, before also transitioning to equipment and testing. After freelancing for Golf Monthly and The PGA for 18 months, he was offered a full-time position at the company in October 2022 and continues to cover weekend news and social media, as well as help look after Golf Monthly’s many buyers’ guides and equipment reviews.
Taking up the game when he was just seven years of age, Matt made it into his county squad just a year later and continues to play the game at a high standard, with a handicap of around 2-4. To date, his best round came in 2016, where he shot a six-under-par 66 having been seven-under through nine holes. He currently plays at Witney Lakes in Oxfordshire and his favourite player is Rory McIlroy, despite nearly being struck by his second shot at the 17th during the 2015 BMW PGA Championship.
Matt’s current What’s In The Bag?
Driver: Honma TW747, 8.75°
Fairway Wood: TaylorMade Rocketballz Stage 2, 15°, 19°
Hybrid: Adams Super Hybrid, 22°
Irons: Mizuno MP54, 5-PW
Wedges: Cleveland 588 RTX 2.0 Tour Satin, 50°, 56°, 60°
Putter: Cleveland TFI 2135 Satin Cero
Ball: Titleist Pro V1x
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