World Super 6 Perth favourite Thomas Pieters says he feels "absolutely crap" after being laid low by sickness on the eve of the event, which already lost drawcard Andrew ‘Beef’ Johnston on Tuesday after he withdrew due to personal reasons.
Pieters is one of the headline acts at the unique tournament held at Lake Karrinyup Country Club, but he arrived in Perth on Monday night feeling worse for wear.
The World No.79 hopes he will feel much better when the first round gets underway on Thursday, and concedes just making it to the starting line will be a mini feat in itself.
“I arrived Monday night and I feel like absolute crap,” a forthright Pieters said.
“Normally I'm decent with it, but I got off the plane and I felt sick. I can't sleep. I took a lot of medication last night, and as you can hear I don't feel quite right.
“I felt perfect before I got on the plane. It's just a bad environment on a plane. There are lots of people on there who are maybe sick.
“You can catch something really quickly. It's happened before. It hasn't stopped me very often from playing good golf. I guess having less expectations is sometimes good.”
It leaves World No.55 Tom Lewis, 2006 US Open winner Geoff Ogilvy, Lucas Herbert, Jason Scrivener Min Woo Lee and Kiwi Ryan Fox as Pieters’ biggest challengers.
The Belgian, who won the World Cup of Golf in Melbourne alongside Thomas Detry in November, last played in Perth in 2014.
“I think my caddie noticed a couple changes. The last time he was here was five years ago as well,” Pieters said of the Alex Russell designed Karrinyup. “The greens, I think they took a couple slopes out on some holes. I only remember maybe four, five holes. Other than that, it's a wonderful course.”
Although he missed the cut at the Perth International on that occasion, he feels he's a much better player now.
“I had good memories about this course, but I just didn't play well five years ago, and I was nowhere near the same golfer as I think I am today,” he said. “But I saw the course today and it does bring back some memories. I like you can be very aggressive here.”
The World Super 6 Perth’s mixture of three rounds of traditional stroke play, followed by the top 24 players going head-to-head in a series of six-hole elimination shootouts on Sunday, with the last man standing crowned the winner, is a unique in professional golf. But Pieters is a fan of the format, having helped launch a similar event in Belgium.
“Not quite the same, but we have a knockout stage as well after 36 holes,” Pieters said. “I just like new ideas and I think it makes it interesting for the public to watch on TV. I think that's where golf is going to go or needs to go, especially with young guys playing aggressive golf. Like I said, it's fun to watch, I think.”
Pieters left the course immediately after his pro-am round on Wednesday in the hope of getting some rest before getting his tournament underway at 7:10am local time alongside equal favourite Scrivener and Dimi Papadatos.
“Make it to tomorrow get healthy,” the 27-year-old said of his hopes for the start of the event. “Goals wise, I would love to make it to Sunday, and I think if you just make it to Sunday, anybody's got a chance.”
-Additional reporting Jimmy Emanuel