PRAGUE (Reuters) – Thomas Pieters, who needs to win this week’s Czech Masters and the Made In Denmark event next week to have any hope of making Europe’s Ryder Cup team, got off to a good start in the first round on Thursday.
The 24-year-old Belgian fired a five-under-par 67 in Prague to take joint second place with Swede Peter Hanson, one stroke behind leader Ryan Evans of Britain.
Pieters may be up against it in his bid to move into the top nine automatic qualifying places on the Ryder Cup points list with two counting tournaments to go but he can look back at last season for inspiration.
He picked up his maiden European Tour victory at the 2015 Czech Masters before claiming another win at the Dutch Open two weeks later.
“I’m satisfied with where my game is at but last week was a little bit of a disappointment,” Pieters told reporters.
“Finishing fourth at the Olympics is quite an achievement as well though so I’m also pretty pleased.”
Briton Matt Fitzpatrick, who is among the nine qualifiers for next month’s Ryder Cup match against the United States at Hazeltine, Minnesota, launched his campaign with a 69.
Fellow countryman and former world number one Lee Westwood opened with a 70.
(Writing by Tony Jimenez; Editing by Neil Robinson)