The European Tour sets up shop this week in the Kingdom of Belgium for the second annual Belgian Knockout at Rinkven International Golf Club in Antwerp. The innovative head-to-head, single-elimination stroke-play format will be hosted by 2016 Ryder Cup star, and native son, Thomas Pieters.
Pieters, at world No. 90, is one of three players in the field ranked in the world top-100, with the others being Englishman Tom Lewis (No. 74) and Spain’s Adrian Otaegui (No. 82), the tournament’s defending champion.
The debut of the Belgian Knockout last season marked the first time the small country had hosted a European Tour event since the 2000 Belgian Open.
As we do each week, here’s a round up of information and historical data about this week’s event.
Tournament: Belgian Knockout
Dates: May 30-June 2, 2019
Where: Antwerp, Belgium
Course: Rinkven International Golf Club
Architect: Russell H. Talley (2014)
Format: 36-holes stroke play, Knockout (stroke play)
Defending: Adrian Otaegui
Top-Betting Favorites: Thomas Pieters, Bernd Wiesberger, Adrian Otaegui, Thomas Detry, Richie Ramsay, Robert MacIntyre, Romain Langasque, Benjamin Herbert, Chris Paisley, Pablo Larrazabal, Tom Lewis
TV & Online
Round 1: Th 05:00-07:00 am
Round 2: Fr 05:00-07:00 am
Round 3: Sa 07:00-11:00 am
Round 4: Su 06:30-11:00 am
Broadcast via Golf Channel
Despite the 18-year hiatus, Belgium has a rich history of hosting world-class golf tournaments. In fact, the first Belgian Open was a 36-hole event held 108 years ago in 1910 at the Royal Golf Club of Belgium.
In 1928, the format was changed to 72 holes of stroke play, and in 1978 the Belgian Open was added to the European Tour International Schedule for the first time.
The first ever Belgian Open was won by Arnaud Massy, the only Frenchman to win a major championship. Other popular champions included Walter Hagen, Henry Cotton, Jose Maria Olazabal, Nick Faldo and Lee Westwood.
Belgium’s most successful 20th century golfer, Flory Van Donck, won his home open five times between 1939 and 1956.
2018-19: Belgian Knockout
2001-17: No Tournament
1998-00: Belgian Open
1995-97: No Tournament
1993-94: Belgacom Open
1993-94: Alfred Dunhill Open
1992-XX: Piaget Belgian Open
1991-XX: Renault Belgian Open
1990-XX: Peugeot-Trends Belgian Open
1987-89: Volvo Belgian Open
1980-86: No Tournament
1910-79: Belgian Open
History: Recent Winners
2018: Adrian Otaegui
2000: Lee Westwood
1999: Robert Karlsson
1998: Lee Westwood
1994: Nick Faldo
1993: Darren Clarke
1992: Miguel Ángel Jiménez
5 – Flory Van Donck (1939, 1946, 1947, 1953, 1956)
266 (-18) – Lee Westwood (2000)
STROKE PLAY: The first two days will have the full field jockeying for a spot in the top 64 over 36 holes of stroke play. A tie for the 64th position will result in a sudden-death play-off which will take place on Friday evening.
KNOCKOUT PLAY: On Saturday, the top 64 players will be seeded and will play three rounds of nine-hole knockout matches using a single-elimination format, leaving eight (8) players standing for Sunday’s final knockout matches.
The field this week in Antwerp includes three players ranked in the top 100 in the Official Golf World Rankings, headlined by tournament host Thomas Pieters (No. 90). The other top-ranked players are Englishman Tom Lewis (No. 74) and Spain’s Adrian Otaegui (No. 82), the defending champion.
Thomas Detry (No. 160) and Nicolas Colsaerts (No. 261) are two more native Belgians who will be teeing it up this week.
Other familiar names include last week’s winner in Denmark, Bernd Wiesberger of Austria, and the runner-up Robert MacIntyre of Scotland; along with Frenchman Alex Levy, and Englishmen Oliver Wilson and Chris Paisley.
Full Field & Odds
The favorite this week is Thomas Pieters who has fallen on hard time in recent years. The one-time burgeoning star won three times in a 12-month stretch in 2015-16 en route to a spot on the European Ryder Cup team at Hazeltine.
But the long-bombing Belgian has been shutout of the winner’s circle since, and is now ranked 90th in the world (from 23 in 2017). Still, the talent is there, and against a weak field, on his home turf, it’s a smart pick.
Thomas is offered at 22-1, slightly ahead of last week’s winner in Denmark, Bernd Wiesberger (25-1), as well as the Belgian Knockout’s defending champ Adrian Otaegui (28-1).
Belgium’s Thomas Detry was also at 28-1.
Rounding out the top-5 betting favorites in Antwerp, at 33-1, was a trio consisting of Frenchman Romain Langasque along with Scotsmen Richie Ramsay and Robert MacIntyre.
Odds To Win the 2019 Belgian Knockout
Credits: European Tour Media, Getty Images