You participated in the BKO meets City Pirates Project (Charity project to get minority groups into golf). How was it to teach young football players golf and will you participate in such events in the future?

It’s amazing to see how dedicated some of these kids were during this workshop, even though their main sport will always be football. You could feel how much they wanted to win and therefore, put a lot of effort and focus during this short training session. Kids should have the opportunity to try out any sport they like and therefore I’m hoping more projects like this will happen in the future. It will also help rejuvenate the current pool of golfers.   

I was stunned about the kids’ dedication and skills, even though they really loved playing football. Their eagerness to win will definitely help them in the future in any sport and I’m hoping to participate in such projects in the future. It will also help rejuvenate the current pool of golfers, if they decide to play golf in the future. (https://www.citypirates.be)

The Belgian Knockout is no longer on the calendar, but the BCKO got a spin-off. Why should amateur golfers participate in the Belgian Club Knockout (BCKO)?

It’s a great way to start playing more Match Play competitions within the WAMP app. Furthermore, it’s just a lot of fun to play against new people, rather than beating your own family and friends all the time…

Why do you feel the Belgian Club Knockout has been such a success for amateur golfers?

It has been an opportunity for amateur golfers to experience how it feels to play at a Pro tournament. Playing Championship greens is something you cannot describe. This competition gives amateur golfers the opportunity to be close to the Top players and it created an amazing level of fan-engagement.

What key factors turned the BKO into such a success?

First of all, the time, effort and love that my amazing family put into the organisation. Second, the event would not have taken place without the huge number of volunteers and visitors. Third, the fan-engagement that was created through the BCKO tournament (Belgian Club Knockout) definitely increased the people’s attention to be part of the BKO. Last, but not least, of course all partners, suppliers and sponsors who helped us to create this incredible event.

The mixture of good organisation, amazing volunteers and visitors, and of course all great partners, suppliers and sponsors. They all turned this event into something unforgettable.

To promote the BKO 2019, Thomas Detry and you were challenged to hit a bottle of beer hanging on a string 15 meter high in the Port of Antwerp. How did you like this challenge and how many attempts were needed to actually break one?

I loved it. I’ve done this kind of challenge before with Andy Sullivan and Ricardo Gouveia at the Portugal Masters in 2016. It was a different setting of course, however, I did hit the beer bottle hanging from a drone! At the Port of Antwerp, I’m not sure how many attempts were needed. I was bummed that Thomas Detry was the one breaking the bottle first, however, I did touch the rope… Nevertheless, we had a good laugh with the whole crew, as we were more often hiding for cannon (golf) balls flying back after hitting a container at high speed.

You and your family organised two European Tour events in 2018 and 2019. How do you look back on the two Belgian Knockouts? How do you feel about playing on home soil and sharing this event with family, friends and the Belgian fans?

It was an amazing feeling to play before my home crowd. The most amazing thing about this tournament was the fact that my family was there all the time and that they were able to make this tournament such a success!

Why should people download the WAMP Application?

A little bit of competition can definitely boost your skills. On the one hand, you stay more focused, as you want to beat your family and friends. On the other hand, you can have a fun morning or afternoon in good company without the hustle of counting and writing everything down, as the WAMP application will do all the calculations for you. Play More. Play Match.
It’s the easiest way to play Match Play against family and friends. No need to think, write and calculate. Just enjoy your company and WAMP will take care of the rest.

Can you tell us more about the WAMP app?

WAMP (We Are MarchPlay) was born to increase golf’s ‘dynamic’, ‘competitive’ and ‘fun’ factor for its ever growing community, whilst creating an enormous opportunity for premium brands that would want to attract our user base as their customers.

It allows users to keep track of their score and all of their past matches, generate statistics, compare with friends or the community, share their golfing memories, comment on their friend’s games, follow their favorite professional players and much more. And on the other hand, WAMP offers a new, unique and interactive medium for advertisement. From having your own (inter)national branded Ranking or competition, to opportunities in-app and push notification.
Anyway, I’d love to sit down and have a chat about this beautiful app, however, I think my brother and his agency did an amazing job at creating it, so head over to the website www.wearematchplay.com and get to know the story.

As a WAMP ambassador, you must love the Match Play formula. What’s so great about this type of game?

When I’m not preparing for a tournament, I like to keep the competition alive between family, friends and myself. Match Play is low key, accessible for all golfers and faster than the regular 18 holes I would normally play. People might think it’s not fun to play against me, however, I must admit that everything is possible in Match Play and that’s what I like so much about it.

The Covid pandemic has caused a major increase in people starting to play golf. What is your ultimate tip for those who are new to golf?

Find some good friends with whom you can go on to the driving range and practice your technique as much as you can. Afterwards you can laugh about your bad hits over a drink.

How do you train the mental aspect of your golf swing?

It’s a tough exercise and I neglected its worth for a long time, but, the Covid-19 pandemic and its lockdown in 2020 forced me to practice this difficult activity. You stand in front of a mirror and watch how your swing should look and how that feels. It’s all about understanding every movement of every part of your body, so you can do it without thinking about what you’re doing. It’s a mental challenge, however I wouldn’t recommend it to someone still learning how to master his/her swing.

How do you handle a disappointing tournament/game?

I try to reflect upon what happened, remember myself of what went well and move on to the next tournament. There’s no use in beating myself up about all the things that went wrong. In addition to that, I Facetime or hug my baby daughter and afterwards all is forgotten.

When did you start playing golf?

I started playing as a 4 year old together with my parents, brother and sister at a small golf club in Olen, Belgium. The club was very accessible for families with children. We were allowed to play football on the driving range in the evenings and fish golf balls out of the water hazards. Many clubs these days host golf camps for children where fun and leisure are the main focus. Perfect to get kids in touch with this beautiful sport.

What's your favourite Major?

The Masters, for sure. This was the tournament I could stay up late for when I was younger. The Masters is mythical and magical. I would only need to hear the intro sound on TV and I’m already feeling it. I had the privilege to play in 2017 and 2018, and the butterflies I had when driving up Magnolia Lane, I always had the ‘yes, I’ve made it’ feeling.

Favourite/least favourite mode of travel?

By car is my favourite… by boat my least!

Do you like cycling and do you have any memories of Belgium's national sport as a kid, or was it always golf, golf, golf?

I like cycling. It’s sometimes part of my training program nowadays but I never did it as a kid. I played many team sports until the age of 14 but I always dreamed of becoming a professional golfer.

Away from golf, what's the biggest misconception about Belgians?

That Belgians are not to be underestimated. If we’re talking about Belgian sportsmen and women we’re sometimes too humble or they say we’re shy, but I’m actually the total opposite. I’ll always say what I want to achieve and that’s just becoming the best in the world.

What’s your best tip for ball striking?

Keep plenty of pressure on the ball.

What's the best advice you've ever received when it comes to putting?

That you have to listen to the strike you make and that you have to make sure you strike your putt the same way each time.

Everyone obviously sees the advantage of being tall when playing golf. Are there any disadvantages?

Not really. I think being tall is great, not only when playing golf but also to spot the ice cream stand from miles away.

Does your golf bag travel with you and what would you do if you lost it?

My golf bag always travels with me. There has only been one instance where my clubs went missing for a few days upon arrival at a tournament but normally they never leave my side.

Does your interest in snowboarding and winter sports explain your love of adrenaline and boisterous crowds like we saw in The 2016 Ryder Cup?

No, I don’t think so. When I’m snowboarding it often gives me a sense of peace and relaxation because it is normally at the end of each season. Sliding down a hill is the ultimate feeling of freedom for me. Playing in front of boisterous people just fires up my game sometimes. It gives me more energy to perform!

You’re a keen snowboarder. How often do you snowboard, and can you do tricks?

I really enjoy snowboarding and make a trip every Winter with my family. I’ve got some moves but I’m no Shaun White, and I don’t try to go full X Games when I’m snowboarding.

Do you set goals for yourself?

I set goals with my team every season. We keep these to ourselves but winning is always a good place to start. I think goal setting is a great way to improve and something all golfers can benefit from over time.

Your most nervous tee shot was when and where?

The first tee at The Ryder Cup is tough to beat.

Do you listen to music when you casually play golf?

Absolutely, I’m always listening to music whenever I can.

What is your favourite club to hit on the range?

I like to spend a lot of time on my wedges, so I can take advantage of my length off the tee. Who doesn’t like to hit a bucket of drivers though?

Did you enjoy playing for Mike Small (college coach at the University of Illinois)? Coming to Illinois from Belgium isn’t an easy trip, do you think that has helped you adapt to life on Tour with traveling, and being away from home?

Coach Small is the best. I had three awesome years there and I’m still in touch with him and some of my teammates to this day. It was tough being so far away from home and I do think it’s helped me adapt to life on Tour. Being away from family is never an easy thing, but it’s part of the job.

What is your favourite city of the European Tour?

Antwerp of course. Lots of players got to visit my lovely city when they were out here for the 2018 and 2019 Belgian Knockout.

How much time do you spend on long and short game on a typical practice day?

During a typical practice day, I spend about 50/50 on long game and short game, but most of the time I’m out on the course just playing shots.

Do you get a new set of clubs for every tournament?

No. I only need one or two sets of clubs per year, depending on how much they are worn out. Wedges I change every two months and I also like to try out a lot of putters.

What has been your greatest golf moment in your life?

Being part of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio and the 2016 European Ryder Cup team.

How did you prepare for The 2016 Ryder Cup?

Seriously? By watching tons of Youtube videos of The Ryder Cup. I was really excited, I even had butterflies in my stomach.

What is important to you during a competition?

My team, the support of the fans and, in particular, of my family and friends. They give me confidence and being surrounded by them brings out the best in me both on and off the golf course.

Do you have a good relationship with your caddie?

Yes. A caddie is more than a person that carries your bag…he also bakes sweet treats for you!

No seriously, we travel, eat and train together and during competitions I trust him on what he says to make me feel confident on distances, wind, and everything else going on. Adam and I get along very well. Plus it helps that we have the same kind of humour.

What did you study in college?

I studied Sports Management at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA) from 2010 to 2013, while also being part of their golf team.

How important is distance in your game?

It is important but hitting it straight is more important. When I play courses that are more open, it definitely gives me an advantage hitting shorter clubs into the greens.

What does a tournament day look like for you?

Some of it depends on my tee time, but I usually go to the gym in the morning, head to the golf course, then stretch, eat, and sleep afterwards.

Which shot are you particularly proud of?

My first hole-in-one on Tour at the 12th hole of the 2018 WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai, China.

Have you ever made a hole-in-one?

Yes. My first one was on the sixth hole at Cherry Hills Country Club during the second round of the 2012 US Amateur Match Play. The second one was on the 13th hole at Albatross Golf Resort on the Pro-Am Wednesday of the 2015 Czech Masters, and then a little more recently on the 12th hole during the 2018 WGC- HSBC Champions.

What’s your most memorable putt?

My final putt at the Jack Nicklaus Invitational when I was in College. It was 14 feet, downhill, left-to-right for birdie, which in the end gave me the win. I’ll also always remember the putt that came back to my feet during the play-off at the 2014 Open de España against Miguel Ángel Jiménez.

What is your lowest official round?

I shot 62 during the third round of the 2015 KLM Open and 2018 Turkish Airlines Open.

Who would you choose for your dream 4-ball?

Tiger Woods, Roger Federer, Michael Jordan and me.

What are your goals for the future?

To complete a rubics’ cube in under two minutes. But being serious now, winning a Major or the Olympics as the first Belgian player is of course an ambition each year for me, but this is not my sole focus.

What do you eat on the golf course?

A healthy nut mix, banana or apples, a sandwich and the occasional Haribo candy for when I’m low on sugar…or for when I just want candy. My caddie Adam also prepares me high protein and carbohydrate peanut butter balls for during every tournament round.

What would you have done for a living if you didn’t play golf?

I have no idea, I never had a plan B! I wanted to play on the European Tour, so failing was never an option. If I think about it now, I would have loved to have tried my hand as a professional snowboarder.

Do you prefer to hit a draw or fade with your driver? What about irons?

I prefer a straight ball flight with my driver and I like to fade my irons.

What’s your longest recorded drive?

+/- 420 yards during the NH Collection Open in Spain in 2014.

If you could travel back in time, when and where would you go?

I’d love to rewind to September 2016. I will forever be grateful for the experiences I had during The 2016 Ryder Cup at Hazeltine, and it’s something that I would love to do all over again.

Favourite course you've played on the European Tour?

I’d have to say Carnoustie in Scotland is one of the most unique ones I’ve played so far. It’s beautiful and poses a challenge for every player’s game.

Which golf rule would you change?

The rule that you can’t take mulligans. A second serve would come in handy from time to time.

How many hours a week do you spend in the gym?

I have a workout schedule that changes depending on the tournament and the environment I am in as things tend to be different when you are on the move a lot of the time. In order to stay fit and healthy, plus improve my strength, I tend to do three to four workouts a week.

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