Thomas Pieters, a breakout star of The 2016 Ryder Cup, will be aiming to boost his chances of a return to Team Europe when he joins fellow hopefuls Alexander Levy and Thorbjørn Olesen at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open hosted by the Rory Foundation, the season’s fourth Rolex Series event.
The race for The Ryder Cup is intensifying, with just three months to go until Thomas Bjørn’s team arrives at Le Golf National in Paris hoping to reclaim the trophy by overcoming Jim Furyk’s American charges.
As one of the eight Rolex Series events on the European Tour’s 2018 Race to Dubai, the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open is an important tournament for those hoping to force their way into contention for Ryder Cup qualification.
Points earned at all events from the BMW PGA Championship up to Made in Denmark are multiplied by 1.5 for Ryder Cup qualification purposes while no points are available on any other tour during Rolex Series event weeks.
For Pieters, Olesen and Levy, the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open will represent a huge opportunity to play their way into the plans of Bjørn, who will also be present at Ballyliffin Golf Club in just over weeks’ time.
Pieters knows all about making a late push for qualification – having won in Denmark just a month prior to The 2016 Ryder Cup to help earn a Captain’s pick from Darren Clarke. He soon justified that selection with a remarkable performance which made him the top points scorer for the away team despite a European defeat.
The Belgian is looking forward to returning to Ireland for the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and feels like his game is tuning up nicely to hit a strong run of form at the most opportune time.
“I feel like my game is in good shape at the moment and I’m really looking forward to this run of Rolex Series events,” said Pieters. “The Dubai Duty Free Irish Open is always a great tournament with incredible support so hopefully I can perform and it can provide the platform for a big summer.”
Frenchman Levy, meanwhile, maintains strong hope of fulfilling his dream to represent Europe in front of his home crowds and with one European Tour win under his belt already this season, a Rolex Series triumph would go a long way in securing his spot at Le Golf National.
“I am looking forward to playing Ballyliffin,” said Levy. “I have heard good things about the course and I am keen to improve my record at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open. It is an important summer and the Rolex Series events are huge for us, so it should be a fun week.”
Olesen is a Rolex Series winner already this year, having emerged victorious at the Italian Open in June and, the Dane would love nothing more than to play his way into the reckoning for the September showpiece.
“I have played quite well in Ireland in the past so I’m looking forward to this year’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Open,” said Olesen. “Winning a Rolex Series event was up there with the best moments of my career and to win at Ballyliffin would be huge for me.