Defending Champion Nicolas Colsaerts is hoping his return to this week’s Volvo China Open can inspire the same kind of career-changing momentum that saw him break into the world’s elite following his victory in the world’s most populous country 12 months ago.
The 29 year old’s victory in Chengdu last year changed his approach to the game and gave him the self-belief and confidence that his prodigious talent always deserved. It also opened the door to the game’s elite, gaining him entry to golf’s biggest events in the form of Major Championships and World Golf Championships.
The Belgian, who is now a hugely popular figure in Asia after his win last year, is relishing the opportunity to defend a title for the first time in his career.
“This is the first time I have defended a title so I am looking forward to it very much,” Colsaerts confirmed.
“Obviously the Volvo China Open moves course every year so it won’t have the same feeling as returning to the same course, but I am glad to be going back. It changed a lot for me.
“I got into tournaments I haven’t played before, I got into Majors and it made me realise that I could mix it with some of the big boys so it was a big win for me and great for my confidence. Winning the Volvo China Open then led to the Volvo World Match Play where I played so well, and it kind of led on from there.
“After ten years of trying to win, I finally did it and it really helped me to realise how could I could be. It set me on a whole new career path, and really helped me fulfil a lot of the potential I knew I had.
“Winning in China changed me as a golfer. It made me realise I can win big events and gave me the belief that I can win on any week, and that is something that I do every time I tee it up now. It has changed the way I see tournaments and the way I handle myself in tournaments.”
Colsaerts is hoping to handle his title defence in the same way he handled that maiden win in which he strode to a four shot victory over Søren Kjeldsen, Danny Lee, Peter Lawrie and Pablo Martin to take home the trophy and the iconic Gold Jacket awarded to the Volvo China Open Champion.
“My main memory of last year is having a four shot lead coming down the last! It was important for me to be able to cruise down that last hole.
“I was very focussed last year and very much in control of my emotions and that new situation of leading and trying to win didn’t really bother me that much, whereas in the past I would have been a lot more edgy. It would be great to do that again obviously.”
Colsaerts will meet some world-class resistance from a field packed with quality as the likes of former champion Paul Casey, Peter Hanson, Paul Lawrie and Ian Poulter head to the beautiful Binhai Lake Country Club in Tianjin for The European Tour’s 77th Volvo-sponsored event.