Thomas Pieters birdied his last three holes to emerge victorious in the European Tour's 2016 Made in Denmark event after one of the most exciting golf finishes of the year at the Himmerland Golf & Spa Resort in Farso, Denmark.
Five players were within one stroke of the lead as the last two threesomes played the closing hole. Pieters, who was tied with Joakim Lagergren at 16 under, played the 18th to perfection, while his Swedish counterpart triple-bogeyed. None of the other contenders could hole out from the fairway to tie.
Here's a look at the final leaderboard and the prize money for the top 10 finishers:
|2016 Made in Denmark: Final Tournament Scores and Payouts|
|T-6||Jaco Van Zyl||-11||€58,500|
Pieters opened the tournament with a dazzling nine-under 62 on Thursday. He played just two-under golf over the next two days, however, which left him as just one golfer among a crowded group heading into the final day, which was delayed by rain.
Then, just as it looked like his chances of winning were fading away, the 24-year-old Belgian started to put on a clinic. His approach shots on each of the last three holes were lasers that left him great looks for birdie, and he took advantage each time.
The European Tour highlighted the putt that clinched his victory:
It's the third career win for Pieters, who won twice on the European Tour last year. It also continued a run of strong form for the University of Illinois product, who finished second in the Czech Masters last week. His combined score in the last two events is 31 under par.
Justin Ray of Golf Channel noted this week's win also put him in some exclusive company:
The European Tour provided some comments from the champion:
Along with Lagergren, who had tallied four straight birdies to tie for the lead before making a mess of the 18th, Bradley Dredge, Adrian Otaegui and David Lipsky were all within one shot on the final tee. It created some incredible drama, at least until Pieters rolled in his birdie.
Even players who weren't part of the wild finish, such as 24th-place finisher Shane Lowry, commented on the overall success of the tournament:
Now the focus shifts to Tuesday's Ryder Cup selections by Team Europe captain Darren Clarke. Three spots are available, with a logjam of players, including Lee Westwood, Martin Kaymer, Luke Donald, Russell Knox and Pieters, hoping for the nod.
Pieters likely would have been on the outside looking in a month ago, especially considering the caliber of his competition for a berth. His recent play could force Clarke to take a second look, though. Nobody else in contention can match the results he's put up over the past few weeks.