Thursday, 09 August 2012
Nicolas Colsaerts  (Getty Images)
Nicolas Colsaerts (Getty Images)

Things can understandably get a bit serious in the world of professional golf - especially during the week of the season’s final Major, where the best in the business are looking to write their names into the history books. Not to mention play for US$ 8 million.

Yep, it can all get pretty serious. Unless your name is Nicolas Colsaerts.

The 29 year old is not only amongst the most talented, biggest hitters in the sport. He might just be the coolest dude in the game as well.

As the build-up to The Ryder Cup gathers intensity by the day, with just 18 days remaining until José María Olazábal’s European Team to face the USA at Medinah Country Club in Chicago next month is finalised, Colsaerts could be forgiven for not wanting to discuss the fact that he is currently in the unenviable position of 11th in the process that will accommodate the ten highest European qualifiers.

But that is just not the Belgian’s style.

Instead, Colsaerts – on the eve of his debut in the US PGA Championship – goes the other way, talking about his Ryder Cup dream with an honesty as refreshing as an ice-cold dip in the nearby Atlantic ocean after 36 holes around Kiawah Island Golf Resort’s punishing Ocean Course in the searing South Carolina summer heat.

“The way I see it, I am in a pretty good position,” said the ludicrously laid-back Colsaerts. “You know, a good week this week could be huge because there are not a lot of points between guys like myself, Poulter, who is one spot behind me, and Sergio who is the last man in at the moment.

“I spoke to the Captain a few weeks ago and we just had a quick chat. I told him how difficult it can be at times to play without thinking about it. He gave me some really good advice on how to handle that situation, but at the end of the day it’s always going to be pretty difficult to not think about something that you have wanted to do since you could walk.

“And there is always something that brings it up anyway. Interviews with TV or you guys; watching TV; reading the paper and even friends on Facebook and stuff like that so you just have get on with the golf and see where you lie in a few weeks when the qualification finishes.”

A strong finish this week could well see the first Belgian player to qualify for The European Team and Colsaerts is relishing the opportunity that the Ocean Course is going to present him to do just that.

Some invaluable advice from putting coach Dave Stockton, the man who Captained the USA to Ryder Cup glory at this venue in 1991, as well as an instant feel for the terrain, has Colsaerts feeling good about his chances.

At 7,676 yards in length, and extremely soft after some torrential rainstorms over the past few days and weeks, Colsaerts can use his extreme power to his advantage this week.

“The course is pretty good – severe at times but that just depends what positions you get yourself into. It feels pretty comfortable off the tee for me but you have to hit it on the short stuff. It’s pretty soft because of all the rain we have had so I do think my length will be an advantage in some respects.

“The ninth hole is a pretty good example of that. I will be around a driver and seven iron in there, maybe a six if they put us way back off the tee, but a lot of guys will be going in there with three irons and hybrids, so yeah the length with help but you still have to hit the right shot, get trajectory right and hold that green.”

Colsaerts’ coolness should not be misinterpreted as a blasé attitude. The passion burns bright behind those trademark shades. He is just one of those fortunate ‘dudes’ (to borrow one of the most frequently used words in his vocabulary) who can look at life from a wonderfully horizontal position.

Perhaps that attitude comes from the recently discovered belief that he truly belongs at the very highest level of his chosen profession.

A prodigious talent throughout his life (and a master of four languages), the Belgian has, after a few career hiccups, finally started to realise his seemingly endless potential.

After winning twice on the 2009 Challenge Tour to secure a return to the top level, his victory in last year’s Volvo China Open finally opened the door to The European Tour’s winner’s enclosure.

Since that breakthrough win, Colsaerts has played to an exceptional standard and another victory in this season’s Volvo World Match Play Championship – coupled with a further seven top ten finishes – has taken him to the cusp of Olazábal’s Ryder Cup Team.

He is typically loving every second of it, especially his adventures in America where the boisterous crowds are beginning to wake up to a man who could easily outdrive the likes of Tiger, Bubba and even Dustin on his biggest days.

“It’s been pretty cool to be out in America and experience the crowds over here. Some of the shouts are so funny. I keep getting ‘Yo Colsaerts!’ and then if I catch the big dog and hit a really long drive they all just go ‘WOW’. I get a lot of the ‘WOWS’ – it’s hilarious.

“It is nice to be recognised because it doesn’t feel like I have done that much over here to get that kind of recognition. I suppose doing well at the US Open this year will have helped but it’s a nice confidence boost to not go unnoticed if you like.

“I suppose I do belong in this company now. I certainly feel more at ease among these dudes that are the best in the world than I did when I first started playing in the biggest tournaments. I feel it on the range and in practice – I am certainly not intimidated or scared by it – it’s just cool to be here.”

It’s cool to have you Nic.

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