Former Illinois golfer shines in Masters debut


The Daily Illini File Photo

Former Illinois golfer Thomas Pieters lines up his putt to the first hole at the Stone Creek Golf Club in Urbana on Wednesday, April 18, 2012.

By Eli Schuster, Assistant sports editor for video

Illinois men’s golf alum Thomas Pieters made his first career Masters appearance Thursday in Augusta, Georgia.

Pieters failed to claim the green jacket but finished tied for fourth. He stood out as the youngest of the top-four finishers after finishing -5 for the weekend.

The 25-year-old found himself near the top of the leaderboard during each of the four rounds. On the first day of the tournament, he started strong, playing with the lead for several holes.

As he battled the wind, he only finished one round above par.

The Belgium native’s best outing came on the last day of the tournament when he strung together four-consecutive birdies starting at the 12th hole. Even with carding a 68 to close out the day, Pieters’ score of 75 in the second round kept the green jacket a dream for now.

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Pieters revisited his alma mater the day after his final round, visiting with his former Illinois men’s golf head coach Mike Small and Director of Athletics Josh Whitman.

Josh Whitman on Twitter: “Yesterday…Augusta. Today…Champaign! Congrats to @Thomas_Pieters on 4th pl at @TheMasters! Thx 4 visiting! #ILLINI / Twitter”

Yesterday…Augusta. Today…Champaign! Congrats to @Thomas_Pieters on 4th pl at @TheMasters! Thx 4 visiting! #ILLINI

During his time at Illinois, Pieters won a string of individual titles. In 2011, he claimed first place in the Jack Nicklaus Invitational and a year later was named the 2012 NCAA Division I national champion.

Before leaving the school to turn pro in 2013, Pieters was a part of the 2013 Illini team that finished second in the NCAA championship and added another individual title after winning the Big Ten championship.

Pieters has competed in PGA Tour events since 2016 and European Tour events since 2013.

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