Pieters enjoys warm welcome in Abu Dhabi

Pieters finished top of the pile 12 months ago, one shot ahead of Shubhankar Sharma and Rafa Cabrera Bello, for his first Rolex Series victory



Thomas Pieters during the Fourball matches of the Hero Cup at Abu Dhabi Golf Club. — AP
Thomas Pieters during the Fourball matches of the Hero Cup at Abu Dhabi Golf Club. — AP

By DP World Tour

Published: Wed 18 Jan 2023, 7:48 PM

Defending champion Thomas Pieters is glad to be back at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship (January 29-22) although he admits seeing himself almost everywhere took a bit of getting used to.

Pieters finished top of the pile 12 months ago, one shot ahead of Shubhankar Sharma and Rafa Cabrera Bello, for his first Rolex Series victory and sixth on the DP World Tour.

"They definitely remind me that I've won here. My face is on every building. I've never had that before. It's such a strange feeling," he said.

"But playing the back nine yesterday was kind of special. It was my first Rolex Series, and to kind of relive those shots with my caddie was, I'm not going to say emotional but it was very special."

Earlier on Wednesday, Seamus Power admitted he was blown away by Yas Links - this week's venue - and Pieters was in agreement.

"It's one of the best I've ever seen," he said. "The grass is so consistent, so tight.

"You'll see some amazing short game this week."

He added: "It needs a lot of breeze. I think tomorrow we'll have some breeze and then it calms down during the weekend.

"Again, the more wind, the better players are going to come out on top, especially on this course. We've got small portions to hit on the greens, so ball-striking is key."

Pieters was back in action last week for the first time in three months following the birth of his second child in November.

The 30-year-old Belgian golfer was part of the victorious Continental Europe team who took down Great Britain and Ireland at the Hero Cup at Abu Dhabi Golf Club.

He weighed in with 1.5 points as his side won 14.5-10.5 .

"I took away that I wasn't quite ready. So I should have done maybe a couple more days of practice? But it was tough with a newborn," he said.

"I feel like I'm very ready right now. I'm excited to get going."

Pieters partners Tommy Fleetwood and Shane Lowry for the first two rounds at Yas Links.


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