Thomas Pieters Among Golf World's 10 Players to Watch
Illinois junior Thomas Pieters had quite a summer that included advancing to the round of 32 at the U.S. Amateur and becoming the first Belgian to make the European Palmer Cup team. Pieters now turns his attention to helping the Illini as the fall season approaches. Pieters, the defending NCAA champion, checks in at No. 9 on Golf World's Top 50 Male Players to Watch for the 2012-13 season.
In 2012, Pieters became the second player from Illinois to win the NCAA individual title in three years (joining Scott Langley in 2010). The native of Nijlen, Belgium, fired a 54-hole total of 5-under par 208 (69-68-71) at the Riviera Country Club to finish three strokes in front of the field at the NCAA Championships. The first-team All-Big Ten selection had the sixth-best single-season stroke average in school history (71.64) and tied for fifth at the Big Ten Championships a season ago. The two-time Big Ten Golfer of the Week won his first career collegiate event at the 2011 Jack Nicklaus Invitational with a 54-hole score of seven-under par 209.
Pieters, ranked No. 11 in the current World Amateur Rankings, is the only player not from a school in the south or west in the top 10, which is led by senior Chris Williams of Washington, the No. 1 amateur player in the world. World No. 2 amateur Justin Thomas of Alabama is No. 2 followed by Jordan Spieth of Texas, Patrick Rodgers of Stanford, T.J. Vogel of Florida, Bobby Wyatt of Alabama, Cheng-Tsung Pan of Washington, Julien Brun of TCU, Pieters, and Max Homa of California. Pieters defeated Spieth 1up in the first round of the U.S. Amateur Match Play round back three weeks ago.
Illinois opens the season Sept. 15-16 at the Wolf Run Invitational in Zionsville, Ind.