Colsaerts takes hard road to Ryder Cup

Nicolas Colsaerts at the announcement at Gleneagles two weeks ago

Colsaerts takes hard road to Ryder Cup

From self-confessed clown and party animal to Europe's newest Ryder Cup player - it has been some journey for Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts.

From self-confessed clown and party animal to Europe's newest Ryder Cup player - it has been some journey for Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts.
 
The 29 year old was two weeks ago named as the one newcomer in José María Olazábal's side for Chicago at the end of September, joining Ian Poulter as a wild card after both narrowly failed to make the side on points.
 
Three years ago Colsaerts, talented enough to have played in the Junior Ryder Cups of 1997 and 1999, was ranked 1,305th in the world and looked a lost soul.
 
Not only was he without a European Tour card, he did not have one for the Challenge Tour either and had to beg for invites to events on the Alps Tour.
 
"I knew I was going to be a bit of a clown at one stage of my life, but I've always said I had my mid-life crisis at 25," he said after his selection had had some time to settle in.
 
"It's a pretty good thing - I got it out of the way. I was told a million times (to grow up and shake off his wild side), but it has to come from you."
 
The turning point came when the Brussels native took himself off to the A-Game International Golf Academy in Brisbane for a few months.
 
"It was a great hideaway place and I found myself. It's a bit of a fairy story, I know, but I'm just living proof that anybody can do it.
 
"If you want something badly it's only a matter of time if you put the work in and you still have the passion. I never lost faith of one day maybe being in the position I'm in today."
 
Colsaerts, Europe's biggest-hitter, won the Volvo World Match Play title in May and would have qualified and knocked Martin Kaymer out of an automatic spot if he had posted 66 in the last round of the last counting event, the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles.
 
That would have given him the joint second place he needed, but his 72 left him in 19th spot and also left him waiting - for six hours until he received a call from Olazábal at 10.30pm.
 
"I was biting my fingers and nervously waiting."

Then he got the call from the Captain.  “Where are you?” he asked.

“About ten minutes away,” replied the Belgian.

“Ok,” said Olazábal. “I’ll see you in ten.”

He had been indulging in a little "local sport" - drinking - until the Spaniard asked him up to the Gleneagles Hotel and gave him the good news.

“When I got into the room it was like a scene from The Godfather, with all these people sitting on sofas watching the golf on TV,” he admitted. “It was very nerve-wracking for the first five minutes I was there. But he did a great job of letting me know I was going to be part of it.”

Colsaerts had every right to be confident but until the decision was made, there would always have been a sliver of doubt.
 
"I would not have understood if I hadn't been chosen, but as much as I thought I was going to be chosen you can't help but think that maybe he wants other things."
 
A tearful call to his mother followed and even during the official announcement he stated: "My phone just can't 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,” he continued. “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.
 
"I would like to think that some of the young guys are going to go play tournaments abroad and feel like they are part of a bit of the golfing culture, just because I've finally but the Belgian flag on the map."

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.

In its 85 year history and in the previous 38 editions, the story of The Ryder Cup has so often been about the characters and personalities that have coloured the world class sport.

And as relaxed as he is likeable, with a temperament and game to make a name for himself at Medinah, the Belgian could well be set to pen a new chapter in the Colsaerts family’s tale of sporting excellence.