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."