Having watched his friend and compatriot, Nicolas Colsaerts, make a winning debut at The 2012 Ryder Cup, Laurent Richard believes that Belgian golf will flourish as a result as he prepares for this week’s ALLIANZ Open de Lyon on the Challenge Tour.
Colsaerts, a two-time winner on the Challenge Tour having twice graduated for The European Tour through the Rankings top 20, announced himself on the world stage at Medinah Country Club with a stunning performance in winning a point in the Friday afternoon foursomes.The 29 year old had already made history as the first Belgian to play in the world’s biggest golfing team event.
Richard, a friend and compatriot of the Colsaerts who is also playing in the fourth last Challenge Tour event of the season, believes the hopes and dreams of many young Belgian golfers will now reach new heights of ambition.
“For Belgium it was really different having a player at the Ryder Cup and it was really nice,” he said. “I was so happy to see him playing against Tiger Woods and the manner in which he did it was incredible.“Everybody in Belgium watched it, even the people who don’t play golf so it was a really big deal and golf is growing at home. Nicolas is great with the kids and young players and I’m sure many will want to follow him now.
“They have to understand has it is a lot of work to make it that far, but Nicolas put in a lot of work and I watched the evolution of his game over the years so it was a great feeling to see him do what he did.”Colsaerts is just another of the many success stories from the Challenge Tour and was one of five former players of Europe’s top developmental tour to play in José María Olazábal’s European Team in Illinois last week, alongside Peter Hanson, Martin Kaymer, Ian Poulter and Justin Rose.
After the most significant individual win of his career at this year’s Volvo World Match-Play Championship, the Brussels man praised the influence of the Challenge Tour on his career.“The Challenge Tour was really important for me because before I won there I had only really won small tournaments and when you win a Challenge Tour event it feels like a much bigger deal,” said the 29 year old, whose two Challenge Tour victories came in 2009 as he finished third in the Rankings.
“It is a much bigger deal and it is a really good tour to learn the professional game and try to get into the habits you need to succeed on the big tour.“When you get some success on Challenge Tour you start to feel like you belong at a good level and that gives you a lot of confidence to go and develop and try to take your career even higher.
“You play all over the world against some of the best kids in Europe so if you can win out there and do well then you know you have a great chance to get to the next level.“It’s great to have the Telenet Trophy event in Belgium too because it will give some of our young pros and amateurs the chance to play at a really good level of competition and give them an idea of what it takes to be a pro and the level of standards required to succeed in this game.”