Nicolas Colsaerts comes from a rich sporting family but the first Belgian to compete in the Ryder Cup revealed he spent Sunday night nervously indulging in a ‘local sport’ before confirmation of his inclusion in the European team.
Colsaerts, who has always enjoyed tennis, hockey and most racket sports, had been staying with friends the week of the Johnnie Walker Championship and spending some of his time away from the fairways fishing.
The 29-year old Brussels golfer reeled-in the biggest catch of his career in being handed a European ‘wildcard’ pick. However, after the anxiety and stress of trying to finish either first or second to qualify automatically, Colsearts revealed how he learnt he would be competing later next month in Medinah.
He received a phone call near 10.30pm Sunday night from Jose Maria Olazabal, who asked if would meet with him at the nearby Gleneagles Hotel.
“I went back to the house after the tournament really just biting my fingers and being so nervous waiting for the decision to be made,” said Colsaerts.
“I wasn’t sure what was happening because I was involved in some local Scottish sport last night, and that was some drinking that needed to be done!
“But then I got this phone call from Jose Maria saying: ‘Where are you?’ I said I was about 10 minutes away, so he said ‘can I see you in 10?’
“Then when I got to the room at the hotel it looked like a scene from the Godfather with all these people sitting in sofas watching the golf from the States.
“So it was very nerve-wracking for the first five minutes or so but then Oli did a great job of making me feel comfortable and saying how he was looking forward to me being a part of the European Team. I finally got to bed around 3.30am and it’s the best sleep I’ve had in a very long time.”
A tearful call to his mother followed and even during yesterday’s official announcement he stated: “My phone can’t just stop ringing in my pocket right now.”
Being the first Belgian to make the match made it extra special, inevitably.
“I hope it’s going to put golf in a better position in people’s minds, people’s heads. It’s not a very popular sport back home. I’ve always felt like it was going to be my task to make it a bit more popular and put it a little more on the map.”
Four years ago when Nick Faldo announced his 2008 Valhalla picks, Colsaerts was ranked well outside the top 1,200 in the world. He had been on the Tour for nearly nine years with just a second and third over and some €900,000 in prize money for his efforts in the course of some 150 tournaments.
In fact, he lost his Tour card at the end of 2006 but then after spending 10 months over the next three winters quietly working on his game at the Brookwater Club on the Gold Coast in Australia, Colsaerts re-emerged to win twice in 2009 on the secondary Challenge Tour before making his way back onto the main tour a year later.
And while he banked close to €1.5 combined in 2010 and 2011 he’s more than matched that amount this year with a second Tour victory and the impressive record of seven other top-10s
So player who refers to most people as ‘Dude’ is now heading to one of the biggest sporting arenas in the world, the Ryder Cup.
“I’ve gone about trying to qualify very naturally because I knew I had it in me that I could make the team,” said Colsaerts.
“Admittedly, I have been a bit of a clown at some stages in my life but then after going through a middle age crisis at 25, I have got over that.
“But since I came here to Scotland for the first time in 2001 that over the years I thought to myself that by 2014 I might have a reasonable chance to be a part of the Ryder Cup team.
“So that gift has come two years early and standing here now is one of the best moments in my life. I am living proof that if you try hard enough and you’re determined enough, you can make a Ryder Cup team.”
And Colsaerts delivered a timely message to the likes of Padraig Harrington, Paul Casey, Robert Karlsson, Henrik Stenson and to other Europeans seemingly more intent on chasing the FedEx Cup big bucks rather than showing a commitment to Europe when needed.
“You have to show that you want this and as Ian Poulter said it’s not for the faint-hearted but then you have to show your ambitions, and you have to show that you want to be part of this,” said Colsaerts.
“I showed that I wanted this badly and that’s something also that Jose Maria said to me last night that impressed him. And now also after qualifying for the Ryder Cup I hope I’ll write another chapter in the history of sports in Belgium.”
He is not the first member of his family to achieve sporting fame, though. His great-grandfather was at the 1920 Olympics — playing not just basketball, but also water polo.
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