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September 29, 2016

Thomas Pieters

Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

JOHN DEVER: Thomas, you were a captain's pick along with Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer. How honored were you to get that call from Captain Clarke and maybe your recollections of that call and how much does that make you want to perform this week?

THOMAS PIETERS: A pick or not, I think you just want to perform anyway.

I got the call on Monday afternoon after Denmark, and I mean, I had no idea. He texted me congrats on the win on Sunday, that was it. So to get that call and for him to say, "You're going to Hazeltine," that was a pretty cool moment.

JOHN DEVER: What are your earliest recollections of The Ryder Cup, and how long had this been on your radar to some degree?

THOMAS PIETERS: I think if you're a kid and you want to be a professional golfer, it's always going to be on your radar. You always want to play in the Ryder Cup.

Earliest memories would be probably Celtic Manor, like watching it full-time. I've probably watched one before, but I'm only 24. I tend to forget stuff.

Q. Knowing that basically your last two tournaments really allowed you to have this chance to be picked, what does that tell you about yourself that you were able to come through in those moments?
THOMAS PIETERS: I think that was what Darren was looking for, somebody in form. I think I handled the pressure pretty good in delivering in those last two, three weeks, and only gives me confidence going forward, as well.

Q. Now that you're actually here and it's so close, are there any moments of self-doubt?

Q. And can you also tell us a little bit about your relationship with Pete Cowen and how long you've been together and what he gives you?
THOMAS PIETERS: I've known Pete since I was 13. To work with Pete for 11 years, trust me, that's a long time (smiling).

I started working with Pete when I was 13, and probably -- I mean, I only saw him two, three times a year. But full-time since two years now, a year and a half -- yeah, two years, and it's been a quick rise for my golf game. It's just more well rounded.

To me, in my eyes, he's the best coach. He simplifies it a lot. He's great.

Q. How has the week been so far, and is it what you expected?
THOMAS PIETERS: I wasn't -- I didn't really have any expectations. I just came here to have fun; to be a team player, and it's been great, yeah.

Q. Did you talk to Colsaerts about the experience? I'm just wondering, is there something that he passed on that you can take with you the next three days to help you get through and help you perform?
THOMAS PIETERS: Yeah, I mean, he was texting me, sending me videos for the last three weeks every day. I was getting bored it, it was so annoying -- no (laughing). He's been really good with me. Just the main piece of advice he gave me was enjoy it as much as you can, smile. You worked hard enough to get here and now it's just a matter of enjoying it and playing good golf.

Q. You're well known for being a big hitter, but The Ryder Cup is supposed to be about putting. Is that something you've done a little bit more focus or work on this week or thought about, because, again, Nicolas Colsaerts putting in Medinah is what made him stand out there; is putting a focus?
THOMAS PIETERS: Not more than normal, no. It's just golf. We practice every week just to get better on everything. So, no.

Q. From the outside, as a group, six rookies might be viewed as the biggest question mark on the Europeans. How do you guys view yourselves as a group?
THOMAS PIETERS: We're a strong group. Team chemistry is really good. Really fun in the team rooms and I don't think we even think about being a rookie. Yeah, I don't know how to answer that, sorry.

Q. When Darren Clarke gave you a wild card, he said that he had not seen a talent as promising as you since he played with Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods when they were coming through. How does that make you feel? A lot of people might say no pressure, but is that something that inspires you to hear him talk about you in that manner?
THOMAS PIETERS: Yeah, of course it gives me a lot of confidence in my ability, if somebody like Darren says that about me. But I'm going to try to keep my feet on the ground and just get better every week, get better every year, and if he's right, then we'll see.

Q. Curious if you can go back to the phone call from Darren and a few details. Did he start off immediately with you're going to Hazeltine? Was there any type of anticipation when you got on the phone with him? Did he spill the beans right away? How did that whole thing go?
THOMAS PIETERS: Well, he calls you -- well, me, not you. And he says, "I have to make some really tough phone calls today." So in my mind I was like, Damn it, I didn't make it. And he waited two or three seconds, which was six seconds too long, and then he said, "You're going to Hazeltine."

There was a lot of emotions in those four seconds (laughing).

Q. Is there anything in particular that's inspired you this week, whether it's something someone said or something you've seen in the team room?
THOMAS PIETERS: Just seeing all the pictures in the team rooms of former Ryder Cuppers, seeing guys like Thomas and Ian and Sam Torrance be of such help to you all week long, and you can just learn from them. It's like getting stuff for free, you know.

Q. Could you tell us about your week so far and perhaps tell us how helpful the senior players have been in helping you prepare?
THOMAS PIETERS: (Answering in Dutch. )

Q. Just to follow up on something you said there just a minute ago, what is the best piece of advice you've received this week, from who, and why was it meaningful?
THOMAS PIETERS: Just enjoy it, smile, be happy. If you're going to get frustrated with yourself this week, I think you're going to do yourself no good.

I'm just ready for the challenge. It's going to be fun.

JOHN DEVER: Thomas Pieters, thank you for your time, for your Dutch, that was a treat, and please have a great week, okay.

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