Nocolas Vanhootegem (Getty Images)
Four years after his triumph on home soil, Belgian Nicolas Vanhootegem is targeting a Telenet Trophy double in Brussels this week.
Vanhootegem became the first and so far only home winner of the event in 2007, when he held off the challenge of runner-up Felipe Aguilar of Chile and third placed Englishman Robert Coles at Royal Waterloo Golf Club in Lasne, on the outskirts of the Belgian capital.
La Marache Course will again host the €150,000 tournament this week, when the 38 year old will be joined in the field by young guns Pierre Relecom and Guillaume Watremez, both of whom – like Vanhootegem – are attached to Royal Waterloo GC.
He said: “Obviously I know the course very well and had a great win here in 2007, so I’m now four years older and hopefully also four years wiser! My game’s in pretty good shape and I have the same caddie here with me this week, so hopefully we can have the same result. I’m sure there will be lots of spectators over the weekend, so it would be good if the Belgian players can give them something to cheer about.”
On the last day four years ago the locals turned out in their droves to follow the final group, which was comprised of a trio of Belgians in Nicolas Colsaerts, Didier de Vooght and Vanhootegem.
In the event neither of Vanhootegem’s compatriots were able to muster a sustained challenge but Colsaerts has since gone on to enjoy enormous success, winning the recent Volvo China Open and almost making a run to the final of last week’s Volvo World Match Play Championship.
The big-hitting Belgian currently sits 11th in The Race to Dubai, and Vanhootegem believes Colsaerts’ feats can help to inspire a new generation of golfers.
He said: “Nico’s having a great season, so I’m very pleased for him. He always had great talent, but maybe his head wasn’t quite right. I remember when he won in Finland two years ago, we were just going out to a restaurant at 7.30pm and he had already eaten and was on his way back to the hotel. When he was younger, he would never have got back so early! So that moment showed me had changed, and was now taking his golf very seriously.
“Hopefully what he is achieving will help grow the game in Belgium, and also show what can be done with hard work. Nico didn’t make his breakthrough until he had been on Tour for over ten years, so Pierre [Relecom] and Guillaume [Watremez] need to stay patient and keep working on their games, then hopefully the results will come.”