PERTH: World Cup winner Thomas Pieters mastered windy conditions to grab a four-way share of the lead heading into the weekend at the European Tour’s World Super 6 in Perth Friday.
The Belgian, who partnered countryman Thomas Detry to the World Cup title in Melbourne in November, fired an eight-under-par 66 to sit on top of the leaderboard alongside New Zealand’s Ryan Fox, Thailand’s Panuphol Pittayart and Australian Matthew Griffin.
They are all on eight-under for the tournament, which is making its third appearance in the Race to Dubai.
Under its innovative rules, there are three rounds of stroke play cutting the field before the top 24 players go head-to-head in six hole knockout matchplay on Sunday to decide a winner.
Pieters has some matchplay pedigree after having claimed four points on his Ryder Cup debut in 2016, but is taking nothing for granted.
“You can get careless thinking you’ve got a lot of room to play with,” he said.
“I think I’m going to try and go out there tomorrow and act like it’s a stroke play event and you always want to be in the first place. If you’re not, I don’t think you’re mentally taking it the right way.”
Panuphol, nicknamed Coconut, was the early clubhouse leader after benefiting from perfect morning conditions for his 66 around the Lake Karrinyup Country Club course.
“I told my caddie on Wednesday, we were very lucky to play first off in the afternoon yesterday and first off today,” he said. “Playing with less wind, it’s always better.”
Fox won the WA Open on the same course several years ago, and said he always did well in Perth as he eyes a maiden European Tour win.
“It always helps when you’ve got good feelings about a place, so hopefully can take those into the weekend,” he said after carding a second consecutive 68.
“And certainly love to get my first European Tour win, but it’s a long way away yet.”
Filipino Miguel Tabuena, the joint overnight leader, had a day to forget, following up his opening round 65 with an error-strewn 78 to just make the cut.
Fellow round one leader, Norway’s Kristoffer Reitan, didn’t fare much better with 77.