The European Tour sets up shop this week in the Kingdom of Belgium for the new Belgian Knockout at Rinkven International Golf Club in Antwerp. The innovative head-to-head, single-elimination stroke-play format will be hosted by Ryder Cup star, and native son, Thomas Pieters.
Pieters, at world No. 60, is the top-ranked player in the field, and leads a threesome of top-100 players – with the others being Dutchman Joost Luiten (No. 76) and Spain’s Jorge Campillo (No. 87).
The Belgian Knockout marks the first time the small country has hosted a European Tour event since the 2000 Belgian Open, which saw Lee Westwood claim his 14th European Tour title.
As we provide each week, here’s a round up of information and historical data about this week’s event.
Tournament: Belgian Knockout
Dates: May 17-20, 2018
Where: Antwerp, Belgium
Course: Rinkven International Golf Club
Architect: Russell H. Talley (2014)
Format: 36-holes stroke play, Knockout (stroke play)
Marquee Players: Thomas Pieters, Joost Luiten, Jorge Campillo, Chris Wood, Jordan Smith, Richie Ramsay, Nicolas Colsaerts, S.S.P. Chawrasia, Chase Koepka, Jamie Donaldson, and Matthew Southgate.
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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, José María Olazábal, 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: Belgian Knockout
2001-17: No Tournament
1998-00: Belgian Open
1995-97: No Tournament
1993-94: Belgacom Open
1993-94: Alfred Dunhill Open
1992: Piaget Belgian Open
1991: Renault Belgian Open
1990: Peugeot-Trends Belgian Open
1987-89: Volvo Belgian Open
1980-86: No Tournament
1910-79: Belgian Open
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. 60). The other top-ranked players are Joost Luiten (No. 76) and Jorge Campillo (No. 87).
Nicolas Colsaerts (No. 161) and Thomas Detry (No. 227) are other two more native Belgians who will be teeing it up this week.
Other marquee names include Pieters’ Ryder Cup teammate Chris Wood of England, as well as Wood’s compatriots Jordan Smith and Chris Hanson, Scot Richie Ramsay, Indian S.S.P. Chawrasia, Welshman Jamie Donaldson, American Chase Koepka, and Aussie Brett Rumford.
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Credits: European Tour Media, Getty Images