By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
LA JOLLA, Calif. -- Nicolas Colsaerts made a name for himself at the Ryder Cup last September when he erupted for eight birdies and an eagle as he and Lee Westwood knocked off Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker.
The memory of what Colsaerts calls that "incredible" day never gets get old.
"Every time I think about it or I talk about it with friends of mine and everything, it's almost like I've got to pinch myself to realize what I've done," Colsaerts said.
Now it's time for the big-hitting Belgian to introduce himself to the PGA TOUR as he makes his debut as a member at Torrey Pines this week. He calls this point in his career "pretty exciting times."
The confidence Colsaerts gained that day at Medinah will certainly be a plus, but he says he didn't make the decision to play the PGA TOUR because of that performance.
"When you play golf professionally, you just want to play with the best," Colsaerts said. "You want to play on the biggest division -- just as much as when you play basketball, you want to play in the NBA. That's what you see on TV. It's what's exciting about the sport."
Colsaerts, who is a two-time winner in Europe, played eight events on TOUR last year with his best finish being the ties for seventh at the U.S. Open and Wyndham Championship. He's been very impressed with the condition of the courses, the pleasant weather and the way the players are treated which he calls "quite phenomenal."
Colsaerts, who is sure to attract attention after averaging 318 yards off the tee last year, says he feels like he's 15 years old again.
"I'm just very curious to see how I'm going to fit in, and how my game is going to evolve with the conditions of play over here, playing with probably the best players in the world week in and week out and on probably the best prepared courses there is ever,' Colsaerts said.
"So this is going to be pretty easy to raise up your game, considering you're playing in these fantastic conditions every week against good guys."
Colsaerts said he plans to spend his off weeks in West Palm Beach, Fla., a place many TOUR players -- Americans and ex-pats alike -- call home. He spent last week there getting ready for this early stretch of tournaments that will see the 30-year-old remain in the U.S. at least until after the Masters.
"I'm not going to base myself here yet," he said. "I have other things on my plate. I don't really want to waste time on looking for a place or anything like that. I've lived out of a suitcase for the last ten years of my life, and I'm quite happy doing so.
"It might take a bit more time to look around. I mean, this country is so big and it has so much to offer, it's difficult for somebody like me who hasn't really been everywhere to find out where I want to live. ... That's just going to work out good for me now."
To preview the 2013 PGA TOUR season, PGATOUR.COM is counting down the Top 100 Players to Watch in 2013. For an archive page with the top 100 players and for an explanation on how the list was compiled, click here .
2013 PREVIEW: Nicolas Colsaerts posted a pair of top 10s in nine starts on the PGA TOUR in 2012, earning enough money as a non-member to finish among the top 125 on the money list to secure his card. The big-hitting man from Belgium has won twice on the European Tour in as many years, including the 2012 Volvo World Match Play where he beat Graeme McDowell in the finals, so he's proven to be a quick study.
2012 DEFINING MOMENT: This will be Colsaerts' first season on the PGA TOUR but the 30-year-old will hardly need an introduction to golf fans in the United States. Not after he made eight birdies and an eagle in his match with Lee Westwood as the two beat Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker in the Ryder Cup. –- Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
ALBERS’ QUICK TAKE: Now here's a player that will be fun to watch in 2012. He averaged 315.2 yards per drive and made enough money for PGA TOUR membership in just nine events. Colsaerts has the rare combination of length and a good touch around the greens. -- Fred Albers, SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio
BOLTON’S FANTASY OUTLOOK: Having accepted membership in 2013 via the top 125 in non-member earnings, he'll be able to set his schedule. However, it remains to be seen what route he'll take as it concerns his agenda abroad. Gamers that have attended this rodeo before understand that it's one thing to emerge amid few expectations, but it's another to reset and do it all over again in the spotlight. I love his swagger, which is to say that he seems to have a short memory, and that's valuable in our world. If your salary game doesn't raise his minimum, plug him in at $677K and collect. -- Rob Bolton, PGATOUR.COM Fantasy expert
SOCIAL MEDIA: Find him on Twitter
2012 QUICK REVIEW
Regular Season ranking
Final Playoffs ranking
|Best finish||T-7th||British Open
|By the Numbers
Cuts made: 8
Rounds played: 30
Top-10 finishes: 2
Money List rank: N/A
Driving distance: 2nd
Driving accuracy: 158th
Greens in regulation: 115th
Strokes gained-putting: 59th
Scoring average: 13th
* -- Statistics unofficial because Colsaerts did not play enough qualifying rounds
NOW IT’S YOUR TURN
What is your prediction for Nicolas Colsaerts in 2013? Fill out the form below and let us know
By PGATOUR.COM staff
Five top international players will be joining the PGA TOUR for the 2013 season after playing as non-members in prior seasons.
Japan's Ryo Ishikawa, Belgium's Nicolas Colsaerts, Sweden's Peter Hanson and England's David Lynn have committed to the TOUR next year after qualifying through the top 125 non-member money list.
In addition, Germany’s Martin Kaymer is joining the TOUR through his five-year exemption as the 2010 PGA Championship winner.
Colsaerts, Hanson, Kaymer and Lynn will be considered PGA TOUR rookies in 2013. Ishikawa’s 2012 season is considered his rookie season as he played in more than 10 events after joining the TOUR as a Special Temporary Member on March 19.
Here’s a quick look at each player:
|Has made 11 starts on the PGA TOUR, nine in 2012. Has two top-10 finishes. Leads European Tour in driving distance|
|Has made 45 starts on the PGA TOUR, 11 in 2012. Has seven top-10 finishes. Tied for third at this year’s Masters|
|Has made 44 starts on the PGA TOUR, 18 in 2012. Best finish on TOUR was second this year at Puerto Rico Open|
|Has made 47 starts on the PGA TOUR, eight in 2012. Has two wins – 2010 PGA, 2011 WGC-HSBC Champions|
|Has made two starts on the PGA TOUR. Finished second at the PGA Championship|
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- One player can secure a PGA TOUR card for the 2013 season without hitting a shot in this week’s Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic.
Special Temporary Member Nicolas Colsaerts has $677,011 in non-member earnings this season (a large chunk from seventh-place finishes at the British Open and Wyndham Championship), which puts him just over $57,000 inside the current No. 125 on the money list, Billy Mayfair.
While Mayfair is in the field (and without an exemption for 2013), Colsaerts is not. If Colsaerts’ earnings are equal to or better than whoever finishes 125th, he’ll earn a card for next year, presuming he wants one.
“When you get a chance to play this TOUR with all these players, the courses you play on on such a big stage, it would be stupid not to consider it,” Colsearts said last month at the Frys.com Open, his last start on TOUR. “I've always played in Europe for a lot of years. It's an unbelievable tour to play on and get your grades up, but once you get a taste of what the possibilities here are they get you pretty excited.”
A handful of other players in the same situation as Colsaerts, meanwhile, have already locked up that opportunity coming into this week (see chart).
|Player||Non-member earnings*||Amount inside top No. 125|
*includes PGA TOUR and World Golf Championships official money events
As for Mayfair, he has just one top 10 in 27 starts this season. But he also hasn’t missed a cut since July, and he tied for sixth here a year ago, moving from 127th to 109th.
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
Nicolas Colsaerts grew up in Belgium but soon might be playing in the United States on a regular basis.
“This is all new for me, but every bit of taste that I get when I come over here and play is wonderful,” he said. “It would be stupid to think that I wouldn't like to play over here.”
He’s moving closer to doing so, too.
Last week, Colsaerts accepted special temporary membership to the PGA TOUR -- meaning he is eligible to receive unlimited sponsor exemptions for the remainder of the season. He’s now hoping to turn that into a TOUR card for next season.
The Belgian has earned $652,886 in eight starts this season, which includes three World Golf Championships starts. To earn his card for next year, he needs to remain inside the top 125 on the 2012 money list (currently Jeff Maggert is 125th with $598,994).
Colsaerts was originally a sponsor exemption in the Frys.com Open but ended up getting in on his number after the last reshuffle on September 24.
Fast forward to this week’s Frys.com Open and Colsaerts is just another step closer to locking up his card for next year.
Colsaerts opened with a 65 and Friday shot 68 to get to 9 under and in contention for his first win on this side of the pond.
A victory would give Colsaerts a two-year exemption.
It’s also probably not the last time Colsaerts will be in contention, either. Despite growing up overseas, Colsaerts, whose great grandfather represented Belgium at basketball and water polo at the 1920 Olympics, says the courses in the U.S. suit his game better.
”The conditions of the courses are just unbelievable to what we're used to,” he said. “It's a kid's dream to play on courses as immaculate as these.”
How do you think Colsaerts would fare on TOUR? Discuss below.
All times Eastern
Tuesday, Oct. 9
2 p.m. – Luke Guthrie
5 p.m. – Nicolas Colsaerts (subject to move earlier)
Wednesday, Oct. 10
Following 11:10 a.m. Pro-Am – Ernie Els
Following 11:40 a.m. Pro-Am – Bryce Molder
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
MEDINAH, Ill. -- When you think about Belgium, beer, more than 800 different brews, in fact, and chocolates, with some 220,000 tons produced each year, probably come to mind.
But the tiny country also has 78 golf courses -- and this week can lay claim to its first Ryder Cupper in Nicolas Colsaerts.
And in reality, the 29-year-old may be the most international member of the European Team since he comes from a country where people speak three different languages -- Dutch, French and German -- and are often fluent in English, as well.
"I've traveled the world since I was 15, so I was always, in a way, mixed up with a lot of different nationalities, because I traveled on my own and I had to find people to talk with," Colsaerts said. "It's pretty easy for me to get along with a lot of different personalities, different nationalities, and different sense of humor."
Colsaerts, who lives in Brussels, says Belgium is so small "it's almost like everybody knows each other" and news of his Captain's Pick was well-received back home. He won his second European Tour event earlier this year and posted his best PGA TOUR finishes, too, in ties for seventh at the British Open and Wyndham Championship.
Colsaerts, who turned pro at the age of 18, comes from an athletic family. His great-grandfather represented Belgium in basketball and water polo at the 1920 Olympics and his father played field hockey for 25 years.
"So it was obvious that I was always going to do something in sports," Colsaerts said. "I remember the first Ryder Cup I watched, I was nine years old. I was watching Kiawah, and even though I was nine, you know, I felt that it was a pretty big thing. And only growing up after, I realized that I wanted to be part of it."
And his idol? Well, that would be U.S. assistant captain Fred Couples.
"Freddie just always seemed to be a cool cat, and the way he walks and the way he played -- I always loved the laziness about him," Colsaerts said. "Funny enough, I think I walk kind of the same way. But yeah, Fred Couples was the only guy I really looked up to when I was young, yeah."
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
Jose Maria Olazabal filled out his European Ryder Cup team on Monday, naming Ian Poulter and Nicolas Colsaerts as his two captain’s picks . Neither selection came as a surprise.
Poulter and Colsaerts were Nos. 11 and 12 on the World Points list, and both fill particular boxes for the European team.
Poulter is a veteran of three Ryder Cup teams (not to mention eight other international team competitions) with an impressive 8-3 record, which includes a 3-1 mark in the last Ryder Cup.
Colsaerts, who will be making his Ryder Cup debut, has eight top 10s on the European Tour this season, including a win at the Volvo World Match Play Championship, where he beat Graeme McDowell in the final match. Colsaerts is also aided by the fact that the 11 other members of the team have all played in at least one Ryder Cup.
Others were considered, too -- Rafael Cabrera-Bello, David Lynn and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano were Nos. 13, 14 and 15 on the points list, while Padraig Harrington, 19th, has the experience of six Ryder Cups. In the end, though, Poulter’s impressive match play credentials, and Colsaerts’ strong season and his ability to hit it long, won out.
Below is a closer look at both of Olzabal’s choices. Davis Love III will make his four captain’s picks on Sept. 4 in New York.
2012 season: In 13 starts this season on the PGA TOUR, Poulter has four top 10s, including a pair of third-place finishes at Bay Hill and the PGA Championship. Poulter’s putting has let him down at times -- he ranks 125th in strokes gained-putting -- but he ranks second in scrambling.
Strengths: Lives for match play, as evidenced by two match play titles at the 2010 World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship and the the 2011 Volvo World Match Play Championship. … His passion for the event was summed up best by what he said in 2010: “There's a burning passion inside to go out there and to beat the USA team. It's as simple as that.” … Makes for a good partner given his accuracy off the tee and ball-striking ability.
Questions: Putting has been his Achilles heel this season with Poulter giving up .110 strokes to the field this season in strokes gained-putting. … Not the longest player, averaging 285 yards off the tee. … Wears his emotions on his sleeve.
2012 season: The first player from Belgium to make the team, Colsaerts’ season got off to a hot start with seven top 10s in his first 11 starts this year. One of those was the victory over McDowell in the Volvo World Match Play Championship, where Colsaerts beat him 1 up and led on four separate occasions in the match.
Strengths: The team’s longest player, Colsaerts averages 316 yards off the tee, which ranks first on the European Tour. … He’s also one of Europe’s best ball-strikers, averaging 13 1/2 greens in regulation per round, which is good for 11th on the European Tour. … Colsaerts played well when he knew Olazabal was watching, finishing seventh at the Wyndham Championship and 19th at the Johnnie Walker Championship.
Questions: Colsaerts is a good but not great putter, averaging just over 30 putts per round this season. … Bunker play is probably the weakest part of Colsaerts’ game as he gets up and down just 47 percent of the time, which ranks 155th in Europe. … His Ryder Cup debut is coming on the opponents’ soil.
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
MARANA, Ariz. -- In 11 attempts, Lee Westwood has never advanced beyond the second round of the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship. As he said Tuesday, "It's not quite happened for me in this tournament."
"I can't put my finger on it," Westwood said when asked about his struggles in this event. "I've played well in individual rounds. I had bad luck a couple of times."
The Englishman enters this week as the No. 1 seed in the Sam Snead bracket, but his first-round match will not be easy. He'll face big-hitting Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts on Wednesday.
Colsaerts reached the semifinals last year at the Volvo World Match Play Championships. Westwood has seen Colsaerts' match-play ability up close. At the Vivendi Seve Trophy last September, Westwood and teammate David Horsey beat Colsaerts and teammate Raphael Jacquelin 4 and 3 in Saturday foursomes.
Colsaerts is making his first appearance in the Accenture Match Play, but Westwood doesn't think it will take long for the Belgian to feel comfortable at Dove Mountain.
"He's got a game suited to this course and this format," Westwood said, "so it will be a tough match."