The brand new European Tour event 'Belgian Knockout' takes place this week, here's what you need to know about the unique format, tips of players and how to watch
Hosted by Thomas Pieters and his family, the Belgian Knockout features two days of strokeplay and two days of knockout matches at Rinkven International GC and is the first European Tour event to be held in Belgium for 18 years.
"I think it's going to be exciting," said Pieters, the three-time European Tour winner. "We are going to see an innovative new format and it will make it really exciting for people who come along to watch and also for people watching it at home on TV."
"I'm extremely proud to host this event. To have played a Ryder Cup, my family and I thought after I played and Nico played in one, it's time to have a tournament in Belgium again. To see it now after two years of preparation, it's pretty cool.
"Having seen what my family has gone through, with all the details that go into holding an event, it's unbelievable. We don't appreciate it enough because obviously we travel to tournaments and just play and then we're off again.
"But to see the build-up, months and months in advance, I'm definitely going to look at all of those details – for example next week at Wentworth – and just think, 'wow, people put so much time and effort into this'.
"I think it's important for players to host tournaments because this is my home course, Rory's was a big success when he hosts in Ireland. It brings a bit of pressure with it but it's good pressure and I like it, I'm trying to embrace it."
Belgian Knockout: The Format
Thursday & Friday:
- The first two days of play will be 36 holes of strokeplay, before a cut is made of 64 players.
- Seeded in to single-elimination knockout brackets, the first three rounds of the knockout matches will take place. Each match will be 9 holes of strokeplay to ensure it all comes down to the final hole, with any ties going to a sudden-death playoff.
- Eight quarter finalists compete in the final three matches of 9-hole strokeplay (quarter-finals, semi-finals, final) to decide the ultimate winner.
Belgian Knockout: How To Watch
Thursday & Friday
- Sky Sports Golf (10:00), Sky Sports Golf (14:00)
Saturday & Sunday
- Sky Sports Golf (12:00)
Belgian Knockout: Tips
Thomas Pieters: 28/1
Pieters is pegged as the favourite at the bookies this week despite going T52-MC-T66 in his last three starts. However, he has been busy helping to put this tournament together, and the three time European Tour winner will no doubt be inspired to play well on home soil this week. Ranks 12th on tour for SG: Approach.
Joost Luiten: 30/1
A winner earlier this year at the NBO Oman Open, Luiten has two T9 finishes in his last three starts and hasn't missed a cut since January. Ranks inside the top 15 on tour for GIR, SG Approach to Green and SG Tee to Green.
Adrain Otaegui: 33/1
One of the more obvious choices this week, Otaegui is ranked inside the top 20 on tour for GIR, Scoring Average, Scrambling and SG Tee to Green and is clearly in form. Has gone T12-T10-T12-T19-2, which includes his runner-up finish in his last appearance at the Volvo China Open.
Jorge Campillo: 33/1
Still searching for a first European Tour win, but has four top 5s in 2018 already, including a T3 in his last start at the Volvo China Open. Ranks 12th on Tour for SG Putting, and is #24 for both GIR and birdie average. Was T13 at Rinkven GC when he played here in the 2005 European Amateur Championship.
Jordan Smith: 40/1
Following his victory at the Porche European Open last year Smith has had a difficult start to 2018, but finished T3 in China and will be hoping to continue that form in Belgium. Ranks 16th on Tour for SG: Off the tee.
Aaron Rai: 40/1
Having gone T9-T12-T52-T20 in his last four starts, Rai is poised for a good week in Belgium. Ranks 9th for Driving Accuracy, and inside the top 28 on tour for both GIR and SG: Putting.
Mike Lorenzo Vera: 45/1
Lorenzo-Vera is still searching for his first European Tour victory after suffering an emotional playoff loss at the Rocco Forte and a runner-up finish at GolfSixes the previous week, but is coming in with a lot of form. Was 1st in putting average in Sicily
Ryan Fox: 45/1
He's had two top 5s in 2018 already, and more recently posted a T12 finish at the Trophee Hassan II and T37 at the Volvo China Open. Providing he has a good week with the putter (currently ranks #172 for SG:Putting) could be a real factor this week, and is ranked #12 for driving distance and GIR.